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Acclaimed singer-songwriter Carla Morrison has come back to music brand new. These past few years, she’s intentionally centered herself—learning who she’s been and who she wants to be, and culling empowerment from both. This choice was critical; patiently refocusing may have saved her life.
Raw retellings of emotional, personal heartbreaks are the bedrock of Morrison’s material, and this honest approach earned her multiple Grammy noms and Latin Grammy wins over the course of five albums. Snowballing from her 2010 debut Mientras Tú Dormías, onto 2012’s Déjenme Llorar and the 2016 release of Amor Supremo, her success grew rapidly. Taking the outdoor stage at Coachella, sharing a bill with rock giants Enjambre at Mexico City’s Palacio de los Deportes and filling to capacity as headliner the city’s famed Auditorio Nacional, opening for tours in Spain, Latin America, and a sold-out stretch of U.S. shows followed.
“It’s just kind of the Latino way,” the Tecate, Baja California-born musician says. “You always feel so grateful, and you always feel so guilty. You don't feel like you're entitled to rest.”
Today, she’s still making music on her own terms—only now, those terms have changed.
In 2017, there came a point when an inner voice of fear was all Morrison could hear. An amalgam of persistent opinions and criticism from both the industry and listeners, her own gut feelings—those internal nudges toward one direction or another, the inner validation that you’re doing the right thing—had been silenced altogether.
“For the longest time, I questioned the purpose of my existence, when I was in the middle of my success,” she says. “I would find myself thinking very often that I wanted to die. Being a highly sensitive person, it was just a lot. It felt overwhelming.”
Addressing her collapsing mental and emotional state was a life-or-death matter. She needed a chance to find herself again, and so she intentionally paused everything— social media, music-making, touring.
Now stronger than ever, Morrison is following fresh ambitions with confidence. Her new songs reflect the labor of a self-discovery journey; in them she shares its fruits too, so that anyone who hears her messages might also find their own route to happiness.
In 2018, Morrison considered how a change of scenery might shift her outlook. A wholly unfamiliar place would demand growth, right? Morrison went big on this hope—she relocated to Paris.
“I was living to everybody's expectations, but not mine,” she recalls. “I didn’t even have a personal life. I didn't even have hobbies. My hobbies were music, and then that safe place eventually wasn't safe anymore.”
To say the City of Lights illuminated the path to a rebirth isn’t quite accurate, though, because it was Morrison herself who put in the work necessary to grow. Could it have been any city? Maybe. What’s most important is that the time and space apart from her home country afforded her room to think and to grow.
The early days of studying French helped: “You can’t really have a conversation. So I was in silence a lot, and I heard a lot of my thoughts. A lot was coming to mind.” Taking jazz singing classes at a music conservatory was a jolt of humility she didn’t know she needed; the improvisation techniques she mastered became central in shaping vocals for her new material.
In this period of taking personal inventory, she gained strength in her own self-image, and finally came to believe that she is beautiful. Exploring the museums of Paris led to a study of Renaissance era paintings; in Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus, she saw herself.
“That's when everything hit me,” she says. “That's what I'm becoming now: a more mature, intelligent woman, that knows she can fail, but is also beautiful, and can be herself.”
Before this journey, Morrison worried she couldn’t explore new sounds or styles. The inner fear persisted. With a laugh, she remembers thinking: “If I get too Dora la Exploradora, I’m going to get in trouble.”
Collaborating over the years with other artists, from Lila Downs to Calexico and Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Morrison has ventured out stylistically before, but she’s not strayed too far from those perpetually looming expectations. An invite from Colombian reggaetonero J Balvin—gifting his 2018 album Vibras with an ethereal intro—was another important step toward more open exploration.
But it’s really the perspective earned in the space she cleared for herself—this concerted effort to reflect and heal—that’s emboldened her instincts. Rather than cater to anyone else’s expectations, she’s now creating music to meet her own. What Carla Morrison wants today is to be happy, and for her listeners to find happiness for themselves, too.
Welcoming a long-standing love of R&B and pop into the mix—styles she used to shut out for fear of alienating fans—was a boon to the process. “I wanted to put more rhythm, more sassiness, in the music,” she says, adding that a universal appeal was also a goal.
With her newfound sharpness of self comes an acceptance that perfection isn’t possible, but unabashedly being yourself is the closest thing to it. Standing in that knowledge, nobody can shake Carla Morrison’s self-confidence now
Unexpected opportunities have since rolled in, like pairing with Ricky Martin on “Recuerdo” for his recent Pausa EP. And surprisingly, “Disfruto,” from her 2012 album, was remixed into a club hit, and remains a favorite of EDM DJs throughout Latin America and Europe, Paris included, and it’s gained plenty traction in Mexico, too.
While retaining the intimacy and reflection she’s always expressed, there’s a welcome undercurrent of joy to the music she’s making now. It’s a new era for Carla Morrison, and she’s strutting confidently into it, head held high. The sound is new, because so is she.
“I feel like I finally learned who I was, and that's one of the things that helps you navigate life in a better way,” she says. “That was my rebirth—for my mind and my soul.”
With her newfound sharpness of self comes an acceptance that perfection isn’t possible, but unabashedly being yourself is the closest thing to it. Standing in that knowledge, nobody can shake Carla Morrison’s self-confidence now.
“I now know better who I am,” she says. “Knowing yourself gives you the tools to navigate life. It’s not just a moment but a constant reminder that happiness is not a place you arrive at, but a journey—a learning experience.”
In 2020, Carla made her explosive return to the spotlight with her powerful track “Ansiedad,” which captured the fragile state of being of the world during a global pandemic. The track received large acclaim from The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Billboard, MTV, CNN and others. She made her first public appearance on one of the world's biggest stages at the Latin Grammys in November 2020 with a striking performance with Ricky Martin for his song “Recuerdo.” Shortly after, Carla released a series of striking songs, “No Me Llames,” “Obra de Arte, and “Contigo,” that served as a precursor to her highly anticipated studio album, El Renacimiento, set for April 29 via her longtime independent label, Cosmica.
The new body of work is set to solidify Carla’s rightful position as a pioneer and an ever-present force in music to this day.