Former Barnwell musician keeps on tubin' with PBS special

From Bourbon Street to Carnegie Hall - from the Kennedy Center to the Circle in Barnwell, this band has played in many spots on the globe.

And the band is under the direction of a local.

R. Winston Morris, orignally from Barnwell, founded the Tennessee Technological University Tuba Ensemble and has directed the "Tubas of Mass Destruction" for 42 years.

He has also written several books on tubas. The tuba ensemble in 2006 released its 20th compact disc recording.

Now Morris can add starring in a documentary to his list of accolades.

The two-time Emmy award-winning writer, director and producer Todd Jarrell followed Morris and his ensemble for the documentary.

"TUBA U: Basso Profundo" documents the performances and the journey of the Tennessee Technological University Tuba Ensemble under the Morris' direction.

The documentary will first air on PBS channels April 26.

Morris was born and raised in Barnwell and graduated from Barnwell High School in 1959.

Morris' wife is also a Barnwell native, the former Barbara Linder. Morris' parents were the late Monroe and Evelyn Morris. Evelyn Morris was a registered nurse and worked for the Barnwell County Health Department, said Winston Morris.
Monroe Morris owned a pharmacy in Barnwell, he said.

Morris said his first music lessons were in piano from "Mrs. Nonnie."

"Everyone took lessons from Mrs. Nonnie," he said.

Morris continued his music education with the high school band, eventually playing the tuba.

Jarrell said Morris' early musical influences, "really set the course for the rest of his life."

Morris' fascination with the tuba continues.

Morris has studied with the great contemporary tuba players including William Bell, who was the premier tuba master in the United States during the first half of the 20th century. Bell himself studied under the legendary composer John Philip Sousa, who penned many famous American military and patriotic tunes.

In 1967, Morris joined the staff at Tennessee Tech. He is currently a music professor at TTU.

During his high school years, Morris could be seen driving one of the first Volkswagens in Barnwell, hauling around a tuba - the largest of the musically instruments stuffed inside the smallest of cars.

Morris' ensemble has performed in Barnwell on several occasions including a stop in Barnwell after performing at the Spoleto Festival in Charleston in 1982.

Morris last performed on the Circle about 10 years ago.