ELKO – No one is ever too young to tell their story.
Just ask 10-year-old Marinna Mori.
Mori, with acoustic guitar in hand, stepped on the stage of the G Three Theater at the Western Folklife Center Monday night, lightly tipped her black cowboy hat to the audience, and launched into her first song, “Red River Valley.”
Standing in front of a sold-out crowd for “Anchoring the Tradition,” Mori performed “Buckaroo Man” and “Night Rider’s Lament” in her first and only performance during the 35th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.
Before concluding her set, she introduced her final song, her own composition called “Country Cowgirl” that tells about living on her family’s ranch near Tuscarora — days filled with riding and roping, and moonlit nights of strumming her guitar.
Since she was 6 years old, Mori has been singing and playing the guitar, influenced by her grandfather, Ken Harriman, and her favorite singer, Trinity Seely, who joined her on stage for a duet of “Cricket Roll.”
So far, she’s performed mostly with Harriman and his band Southwind, but having the crowd give her a standing ovation that night was a surprise to her.
“I haven’t experienced that,” Mori said. “I was like, ‘that’s pretty cool.’”
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Although the brightly lit stage of the G Three Bar Theater seems to contrast sharply with the rugged ranch life she experiences daily, Mori looks forward to the Gathering as an opportunity to share her way of life with audiences and other performers rather than seeking the spotlight.
“I think that’s her passion,” said Madison Mori, Marinna’s mother. “It’s important to her because she loves the culture … [and she] loves this lifestyle.”
Family members have called Marinna her father’s “right hand man” on the ranch, and, in turn, she declares her love for the wide open spaces and “being with family, riding, roping and spending time with the animals.”
Cowboy poetry week will be a busy one for Marinna and her family. They will make the hour-long drive from their ranch several times to take part in Gathering activities.
It also includes her second-year stint as co-host of the Young Buckaroos Open Mic and Talent Show on Jan. 31. It is the same stage she got her start on two years ago as a performer.
Marinna said she wants to continue singing and songwriting, adding that her true love will always be the cowgirl way of life.
“I love to live on a ranch and I never want to do anything else.”