Sisterly trio Southern Halo comes to you from the Mississippi Delta region, an area wedded to the roots of blues and country. Southern Halo, consisting of sisters Natalia, Christina and Hannah Morris, spruce up their brand of country with a hint of contemporary pop, while sticking to the age-old tradition of tight family harmony. Their unique sound comes full arc with their latest album “Just Like in the Movies,” featuring the uplifting single “Anything Is Possible.” It’s the second album release for the trio, following on the heels of their 2015 self-titled debut.
The three Morris siblings started performing together before they even reached their teen years. Natalia (guitar, lead vocals), Christina (drums) and Hannah (bass) sat down with “S&E Nashville” recently to talk about family life, their new project and, yes, their favorite movies.
“Just Like in the Movies” takes a bit of a different direction for a sophomore album. It’s truly a concept record, essentially conceived by Natalia, the main songwriter of the group. “It came from a dream that I had,” she says. “I had the idea where each song on the album would tell a story about the journey of Southern Halo. It’s sort of a collection of individual scenes, and when you put them all together, it’s like a movie.” The three note that the opening track, appropriately titled “Southern Halo,” serves as the first “scene” of the record.
Natalia, the oldest of the three, wrote or co-wrote 10 of the album’s 14 tracks. Surprisingly, given the concept, the title tune was actually an outside cut, written by Music Row ace songwriter Catt Gravitt, Jana Kramer and Brian Kierulf. “That song was on Jana’s ‘Love’ album,” Natalia explains. “We were given that song a while ago and the thought popped into my head that this would be kind of a cool thing to have on the album. It helps complete the story. Each song is very special to us,” Natalia adds. “They all have their own inspirations behind them.”
The Southern Halo saga kindled the idea for the cut “My Girls and Me,” co-written by Natalia. The song paints an apt description of life on the road for a traveling band, with lines like, “Every night is a new day in a different place/Every time is a good time when we’re on a stage.” As Natalia states, “It really introduces everyone to who Southern Halo is. I do remember from the first album that people would ask what Christina’s role was or what does Hannah play.” The song’s bluesy vibe was definitely intentional. “I wanted people to know that we came from the Mississippi Delta,” Natalia explains.
“That is our roots,” adds middle sister Christina. “I think people will get to know us better with this album. You really see more of our personalities.” Natalia picks up the thread and concurs, “Every single song describes our lifestyle. There’s one called ‘Missing Mississippi’ that is personal for us but also relatable to the audience. I feel like a lot of people at this age go away from home and push themselves to be something in the world and they’re always thinking about home.”
The sisters first became intrigued with music by listening to local blues artists. Their fascination grew through their parents’ collections of rock and pop albums. “Mom and dad love music,” remembers youngest sibling Hannah. “They never played it themselves but they always had it around. We grew up on bands like the Eagles and Fleetwood Mac.”
Because each member plays an instrument, they’ve heard the inevitable comparisons to the Dixie Chicks. “Some people have said that,” Natalia agrees. “SHeDaisy is another act that people bring up because we’re three sisters.”
Three relatively young sisters at that. Natalie turns 21 in late May, Christina reaches her 20th later in the year while Hannah recently turned 18. But they’ve already logged their share of road miles and tour dates, opening for acts like Maren Morris, Brantley Gilbert, Parmalee and others. Southern Halo has also tasted success with previous singles “Little White Dress” and “Rewind,” which hit on multiple charts.
The trio has been championed by a few industry veterans, such as Alabama’s Jeff Cook, who produced their debut EP. It could also be said that Southern Halo has found a Music Row angel in the form of songwriter Gravitt, whose credits include Jake Owen’s No. 1 “Alone With You,” “Honestly” by Kelly Clarkson and Jana Kramer’s smash debut “Why Ya Wanna.” For Southern Halo’s new album, Gravitt wrote the title track along with the first single, “Anything Is Possible,” “Hey Boy” and “It’s Always Been You.”
Gravitt has been a longtime supporter of the group as well as a combination den mother and musical mentor. “We met her when we were just babies,” Natalia laughs. “We thought there were all these rules you had to follow but Catt was like, no, there are no rules. She literally did teach us to be as creative as you want because that’s what music is all about.” Adds Christina, “She has always been there for us.”
From here, Southern Halo will be setting out to support the album with radio tours and concert dates. “It’s going to be a crazy year,” says Natalia with a broad, eager smile. “But we’re ready for it.” As Christina sums up, “We can’t wait to see where this takes us.”
Southern Halo’s Favorite Flicks
In keeping with the title of Southern Halo’s new album, “Just Like in the Movies,” we decided to ask each member her favorite all-time film.
Hannah: “My favorite is ‘The Notebook.’ That is such a romantic movie.”
Christina: “Hannah told me about this movie called ‘Scarface’ that I had never heard of. It’s a great action movie. And it shows what happens when drugs take over your life.”
Natalia: “For me, it’s ‘The Princess Bride.’ That is a classic.”