By Joel Hall
In front of his teachers and peers, River's Edge Elementary fifth-grader, Kevin Morris, is somewhat shy, and reserved. However, the 11-year-old Hip Hop, rhythm and blues performer shines on stage.
Going by the stage moniker "KEV," Morris is this month's featured artist on the official Radio Disney web site. Interviews, biographical information, and samples of his music can be viewed at www.radiodisney.com.
Not one to brag, many of Morris' classmates and teachers don't know he has opened concerts for such major R&B entertainers as Chris Brown and Mario. Most of them simply know Morris as a model student, and star athlete.
"He's one of the best students in my class," said Parrish Belser, Morris' fifth-grade teacher. "He's kind of reserved, but when you call on him, he will actually give you the information that you ask him for."
Belser said, until recently, he had no idea Morris could sing.
"He didn't tell me himself, some of the other kids did," said Belser. "I haven't actually heard any of his music. He has strong parental support, so I think that the sky's the limit for him."
Morris also is a talented athlete, who plays youth league football for the Panhandle Park Gamecocks and runs track for Clayton County Parks and Recreation. Morris runs the 100-meter dash and 200-meter dash. He has gone to state competitions three times, and has been the fastest in his age group in the county for the last two years.
"I have never seen a kid that age that is that talented," said David Petty, coach of the Panhandle Park Gamecocks. "I don't know how [Morris' parents] are going to choose what that boy does."
Petty described Morris as a focused, talented athlete, who scored more than 30 touchdowns for the team this year as a running back, and doubled as a linebacker.
"He never came off the field," said Petty. "He played both ways, offense and defense. He drinks a lot of water ... he works out on his own ... you don't have to make him do anything," the coach said.
Petty said he and his children have listened to Morris' music, and that "my son thinks the world" of Morris.
"It's something they can listen to without all the cursing and negativity," said Petty. "That kid, he is going to be something special."
Morris, who will release his first, self-titled CD later this summer, entitled "KEV," said that he puts a lot of thought into his music.
"I want every song on my album to mean something," said Morris. He said songs, such as "Let Me B Me" teach people how to accept others for their differences, and songs like "Best Girl" shows how to treat women with respect.
"My goal is to help people feel better when they're down," Morris said.
Morris comes from a musical family. His father,Wirlie Morris, a local record producer, said he was skeptical, initially, of his son's wish to pursue music.
"He wanted to be in a local talent show," said the elder Morris. "I said, well let me hear you sing first ... he really blew me away.
"The music business is a really tough business," said Morris. "I was a little funny about it at first, but he'll be okay. I want him to counter the negatives that are out there. Somebody has to do that."
For more information about "KEV," go to www.myspace.com/kvnmorris.