NASHVILLE With his chiseled, clean-cut looks
and piercing gaze, Craig
Morgan looks exactly like what he was for 10
years: an Army paratrooper.
But the Nashville native left the Army to fulfill his dream
of becoming a country star. And he's well on his way, with an
impressive self-titled debut album and a second single
release that has all the indications of becoming a hit.
Although he is from Nashville, the route to the country-music
industry has been a long and circuitous one.
"I actually left home and joined the Army for 10-and-a-half
years," said Morgan, who grew up in nearby Kingston Springs,
Tenn. "It was a sudden decision to join. I'd seen all these
advertisements 'Be all that you can be' ... and I
thought it'd be neat to ride around in those tanks and shoot
the guns and get free hunting clothes.
"At the reception station, when I went in, they asked me if I
wanted to be airborne, and I said, 'Sure,' " Morgan
continued. "I thought they meant that I'd be flying planes. I
didn't know they meant that I'd be jumping out of them!"
Inspired By Army Experiences
Morgan said he started entering some songwriting contests in
the military and that his interest in music began to
increase. Then, like his idol George
Strait before him, he won a Best Vocalist of the
Year award in the Army.
Morgan saw action in Panama during the 1989 operation to oust
head-of-state Manuel Noriega, an experience that yielded a
song he co-wrote: his current single release, "Paradise"
"I'm actually in paradise now," Morgan said. "I talk about
the military in the song, but it really leads up to what I'm
doing right now. A lot of people who have heard it and who
have had no affiliation whatsoever with the military say to
me, 'You know, my job ain't so bad. That song made me think
about how good I've really got it.' "
Before the Army, Morgan was an emergency medical technician
while attending college. "That was great training to be a
country singer," he said, referring to his time treating the
wounded and helping to save lives. "I saw a lot of the drama
in people's lives. There and in the Army, I've experienced a
lot of things that people only see on TV. That really
prepared me for country music."
A New Career
Morgan's first single, "Something To Write Home About" (
HREF="http://media.addict.com/music/Morgan,_Craig/Something_To_Write_Home_About.ram">RealAudio excerpt), which he also co-
wrote, also came out of his military experience.
"I sang as a kid, growing up around my dad's band," he said.
"I'd run around onstage, and once in a while they'd pick me
up and let me sing something. And I sang in church, but it
wasn't until after I got in the military and got away from
home that I realized it was something I wanted to do as a
The decision to leave the Army, however, did not come upon
him with the same suddenness as did the one to join. "I was
stationed in Louisiana, at Fort Polk," he said. "My wife
talked it over and decided it would be good for us and the
family. We did some research and on weekends I'd come to
Nashville and meet songwriters and producers. After a year,
year and a half of that, we felt I had the contacts, the
opportunity and the potential to do it. I'd get the Sunday
paper and look for all the ads for writers' nights throughout
Nashville and see who was playing where. Then I'd attend and
introduce myself to people. And it worked." Contacts he made
led to songwriting sessions, to jobs singing demos for a
publishing company and eventually to a record contract with
He never doubted that he would make it, he said. "I believe
that if a man wants to do something bad enough and he has a
good enough product, he can do it. I felt comfortable enough
not confident, but comfortable with the
material I was writing and with my vocals."