Aspiring Idol

March 2020 View more

Singer, songwriter, and actress Ava Morse

By Christie Willhite

A single moment set the course of Ava Morse’s life when she was just 3 years old. American Idol was on her family’s television. Ava pointed at the screen and declared, “I want to do that!” her mom, Debra, recalls.

“It was a significant moment for me. I could’ve easily said, ‘I want to be a dancer,’ ” Ava, now 14, says. “It gave me the direction I’ve stuck with for years.”

Moment by moment, the Naperville eighth grader is building a future as a singer, songwriter, and actress. Ava’s interest led to musical theater auditions, her first professional stage role at age 5, and the moment her mom realized Ava just might have what it takes.

“I didn’t get to see rehearsals, so when I saw her first performance, I was just blown away,” Debra says. Ava’s acting résumé already includes musical theater, national commercials, television, and feature films. But her first love is music, and about two years ago she decided she wanted to try writing songs.

“I’m a writer. I’ve always loved writing stories,” Ava says. “It’s a fun hobby that I’m excited I get to share with everyone.” She draws on the little moments in life—friendships, middle school drama, and everyday stress—for songwriting inspiration, even using songs to work through situations when classmates have been negative toward her.

“Even if it’s a stupid song, it’s a way to express how I’m feeling,” she says. “It might turn into something, or I might chop it up and use it in six songs. It’s always worth it to write about it.”

Ava produced five original songs on “Close My Eyes,” her debut EP released in February 2019. Soon after, she performed in two concerts, including a benefit for the Alive Center in Naperville—moments she could hardly believe were real.

“There were people in the audience who I didn’t know, who knew me, knew my songs, and were singing along,” she says. “I see people I don’t know singing along and I just want to say, ‘I feel like you’re my best friend,’ because we’ve shared so much through the songs.”

These connections and the relationships she builds with fans on social media fuel her, as she juggles traditional school with voice, acting, and dance lessons, plus extended trips to Los Angeles to audition and to record her original music. To date, she’s recorded nine songs with titles that reflect teen topics, such as “Crush” and “What True Friends Do.”

The hectic schedule means sometimes Ava has to choose between her career and her social life, but her parents encourage her to stay connected to friends and to be involved at school, Debra says. They want her to enjoy as many normal-suburban-teen moments as possible.

“We think it’s really important that she has a regular life. … We know all of this can go away in a second,” she says. “And truly, it makes her a better artist … and gives her the experience to write.”


Here’s a sampling of Ava Morse’s acting work on screen and stage:
Billy Elliot (Drury Lane Theatre)
Chicago P.D. (TV recurring role)
A Christmas Carol (Goodman Theatre)
Hazel (Drury Lane Theatre)
History of Us (TV pilot)
Les Misérables (Drury Lane Theatre)
Seussical (Marriott Lincolnshire)
Surprise Me! (film)

Heavy Rotation

Ava Morse loves recording artists who seem comfortable with their individuality, especially Billie Eilish, Lewis Capaldi, and Taylor Swift. Here’s a glimpse at what she was listing to one day, though she says, “It’ll be different tomorrow.”
“The Walker” by Fitz and the Tantrums
“Maniac” by Conan Gray
“Don’t Start Now” by Dua Lipa
“Robbery” by Juice WRLD

Getting social

Ava Morse uses her social media to connect with fans, often posting videos of her covers of popular songs. “I know I’m a different artist, so I adapt it so they know it’s my [version of the] song,” she says, of the covers she posts.
Instagram @avamorseofficial
Twitter @avamorseoffi
Facebook @avamorseofficial
Spotify search “Ava Morse”

Photo courtesy Ava Morse