Craig Morgan wants to stay active in music business
hhGregg Country Music Expo with Craig Morgan, Megan Mullins, Sawyer Brown, Julie Roberts, Clint Black, Lee Ann Womack, Blue River Band, Rebecca Lynn and Carrie Ballard
Saturday-Sunday, April 8-9
The Blue Ribbon and Champion Pavilions at the Indiana State Fairgrounds
Tickets: www.ticketmaster.com, any Ticketmaster outlet or at the Indiana State Fairgrounds box office
When the time comes for Craig Morgan to cut back on his touring - and he hopes it's not anytime soon - he still wants to be involved in the music business.
"I love the studio," Morgan admitted during a recent phone conversation. "I don't know why other artists don't feel that way. I co-produce my albums, which means I am there for the entire process. I'm involved in picking everything, including the catering at the sessions."
Morgan is one of country music's hottest new talents. "That's What I Love About Sunday," the first single from his latest CD (My Kind of Livin'), was the Most Heard Song of 2005, according to Billboard magazine.
Morgan's innate ability to paint a picture with the lyrics he sings can be attributed to his method of writing songs, and picking material written by others.
"I like to listen to stuff that I can relate to, and record songs that I would have liked to have written. Being a songwriter myself, I can relate to what goes into coming up with just the right words for a song."
The second single, "Redneck Yacht Club," also went to No. 1, and as in the case of all his videos, Morgan had production input.
"I have a lot of say when it comes to the videos," Morgan said. "I pick the treatment that I like, that's closest to what I perceive the video should be. And once we're done shooting the video, I make whatever changes I think are necessary to have the video tell the story I want it to tell.
"When it came time to do the video for 'Redneck Yacht Club,' I knew we were going to do something on a lake. I told the director that I could call some of my buddies [fellow country artists Blake Shelton and Aaron Tippin] to make cameo appearances and they did! Some of my other friends got upset that they didn't get called! (laughs)"
Morgan co-wrote eight of the 12 songs on My Kind of Livin', including the latest single, "I Got You" (with his co-producer Phil O'Donnell and Tim Owens). He has also received numerous awards, including the Songwriter Achievement Award from The Nashville Songwriters Association International for his hit single "Almost Home."
"Songwriting for me is often spur-of-the moment," Morgan pointed out. "I've written in sterile environments, like an office, on the tour bus and in my own house with the kids upstairs. I wrote 'I Got You' on the bus with Phil and Tim, who came out on the road with us to write songs."
A member of the U.S. Army for 11 years (he was a Ranger), Morgan feels honored to do concerts for our troops here and overseas.
"I know what it's like to be away from home, and have artists come and perform," Morgan said. "I don't think I can ever do enough for our troops."
Morgan is already at work on his next album, with six songs recorded, and "eight to 10 more ready to go."
The Kingston Springs, Tenn., native is appreciative of the response his work has received, even though it's made it harder for him to go out in public without being recognized.
"I can't go anywhere in Nashville, or my hometown, without people coming up and telling me how much they like my music, or asking for autographs. But it's not a bad thing. I'm not complaining!"
Megan Mullins is carrying on
While she may have graduated from high school at the age of 15 (she skipped grades 7 and 11), Megan Mullins has not been in a hurry to release her first CD.
"I've been working on the album for four years," Mullins pointed out during a recent conversation. "I feel that the first single, 'Ain't What It Used to Be,' is an accurate representation of the rest of the album. I've taken all this time to put the album together, and I feel it's been worth it."
"Ain't What It Used to Be" is a song that finds a young lady lamenting about how things have changed in her life since she's moved out on her own. It was a song that hit close to home for Mullins.
"When I heard the demo of the song, it reminded me of the adage 'follow your dreams,'" the 20-year-old Ft. Wayne native said. "And that's what I've tried to do all my life."
Mullins has been playing music since she was 2 years old. A year later, she started touring with her family's band. Mullins' dad had taught her older brother how to play the violin, and since she thought her sibling was "the coolest," Mullins wanted to do the same things he did. For 15 years, Mullins studied classical violin, and has also learned to play the mandolin, guitar, piano and several other instruments.
Shortly after she moved to Nashville four years ago, Mullins went on the road as a member of Sherrie Austin's band. During the shooting of a video for one of Austin's singles, Mullins was approached by the director about a job on a new television show.
"John Bollinger asked me if I wanted to be a member of the band on Nashville Star [country music's version of American Idol]," Mullins recalled. "But I couldn't take him up on his offer at the time, because I was tied to my commitment with Sherrie."
Last year, Bollinger asked her again, and this time, Mullins accepted the offer. Now in its fourth year, Nashville Star (on USA Network) has introduced country music fans to the likes of Buddy Jewell and Miranda Lambert. As a member of the show's "house band," Mullins has backed people with varying degrees of musical talent, and it's a gig that she does enjoy.
"I'm working with a great bunch of people on the show," Mullins boasted. "They've been really gracious about allowing me out of rehearsals from time to time to go out and visit radio stations and do some shows."
According to Mullins, the Nashville Star band is given a CD of the next week's songs Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. The group rehearses Friday and Saturday, while Monday is spent setting up for the different camera angles.
When she's not busy with Nashville Star, Mullins is finishing up work on her yet untitled debut album, and going on the road to promote the CD, scheduled for a July release.
"I really feel blessed to be on Broken Bow Records. It is an independent label, where I can get more individual attention, and have more creative freedom than I may have on a major label. It's like a family. If there's something going on that I don't agree with, I can call the owner of the label directly."
As for her "ultimate" touring partner, Mullins picked one of country music's hottest male artists.
"To tour with Keith Urban would definitely rock my world!"