Born in Ypsilanti, Michigan, and raised in Romulus, Michigan, Barbara Morrison recorded her first appearance for radio in Detroit at the age of 10. She moved to Los Angeles in 1973, at the age of 23, and sang with Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson’s band. Between the mid-1970s and early 1990s, she recorded several albums with Johnny Otis.
In 1986, Morrison toured with the Philip Morris Superband, completing a 14-city one-month tour of Canada, Australia, Japan, and the Philippines, playing with jazz organist Jimmy Smith and backed by saxophonist James Moody, guitarist Kenny Burrell, trumpeter Jon Faddis, and Grady Tate on drums. Morrison also completed a 33-city tour in the US, co-headlining in an all-star tribute to composer Harold Arlen (known for the music for the classic film, The Wizard of Oz). In 1995, Morrison appeared in a televised Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, with Mel Tormé, Diane Reeves, Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, Tony Bennett, Dionne Warwick, and Lou Rawls. Over the years she has performed with many renowned jazz and blues musicians, including legends such as Gerald Wilson, Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Charles, James Moody, Ron Carter, Etta James, Esther Phillips, David T. Walker, Jimmy Smith, Dr. John, Kenny Burrell, Terence Blanchard, Joe Sample, Cedar Walton, Nancy Wilson, Joe Williams, Tony Bennett, and Keb’ Mo.
More recently, beginning in 2011, Morrison has been performing with Jack Hale, a popular Southern California guitarist, arranger, and band leader of both cool and hot vintage jazz and swing styles from the 1920s through the 1950s. Since 2014 Barbara has been performing with a hot swing group, “Bobby Barron and His Swing Thing Band”-throughout southern California. mostly in the swing dance circuit.
The Barbara Morrison Performance Arts Center, located in Los Angeles, supports the Harmony Project, which helps children encounter music in an after-school program.