by Michele Stevens Bernard, TSB Entertainment Writer
Grand Ole Opry member, Craig Morgan didn’t set out to be a country superstar. But, when he applied his Army Strong work ethic to his love for singing and songwriting, that’s exactly what he became. For the past 10 years, Morgan has cranked out hit after hit. Songs such as, “Almost Home,” for which he was awarded the Songwriter Achievement Award from the Nashville Songwriters Association, “Redneck Yacht Club”, and my personal favorite, “What I Like About Sundays,” have been thrilling country aficionados everywhere. Now, with the recent release of his newest album, “This Ole Boy”, debuting at number 4 on the charts, the hits are sure to continue.
Prior to becoming a hit machine singer/songwriter, Morgan served in the United State Army with the 82nd and 101st Airborne divisions, followed by over 7 years in the Army Reserve. Today, Morgan continues to support U.S. soldiers and their families through his participation in a variety of endeavors. He serves as the spokesperson for Folds of Honor, which provides post-secondary education scholarships for children and spouses of U.S. military service members killed or disabled during service. He also participates each year in the Jack Daniel’s “Toast To The Troops” events, which assemble thousands of care packages for our overseas troops. And, he shares his talents through the USO, having made 9 overseas trips to entertain troops. In 2006, Morgan was awarded the USO Merit Award for his tireless efforts to support U.S. soldiers and their families.
Morgan’s dedication to supporting those who serve our country is what brings him to the McKinney Performing Arts Center this Friday, March 23rd, when the Smiles Charity presents “An Evening With Craig Morgan”. Net proceeds from the evening will go toward building homes for Augie Pena and Andrew Litz, two severely wounded veterans designated as the Smiles Charity beneficiaries for 2012.
I recently had the opportunity to chat with Craig who was gracious enough to take a few minutes out of his busy schedule to call to talk about the music, and more importantly, about his appreciation for those who choose to serve our country.
MSB: So, lots of fun stuff going on in your world right now!
CM: Yes, my new album came out last Tuesday, which I’m happy about. I co-wrote 7 of the 12 songs on it. It’s my first in three years and my highest debuting album. It debuted at number 4.
MSB: Congratulations! I have to say, I spent a good part of my time yesterday listening to your music, watching your videos. One minute I’m crying, the next I’m smiling and tapping my toes.
CM: Thank you. I appreciate it. That’s what music is supposed to do. It needs to speak to you on that emotional level.
MSB: O.K. I need to make a confession. I know you host an award-winning show [Craig Morgan All Access Outdoors] on the Outdoor Channel, but to be honest, I don’t even know where the Outdoor Channel is on my television. (Craig laughs)…..However, hopefully I’m redeemed because, I’m an Army Mom, and I have never missed one single episode of Army Wives on Lifetime. I’m excited to hear you will be a guest star on one of my favorite shows soon?
CM: Yes, I will. I’ll be playing myself, doing a performance. I was excited to be a part of it. It’s a fun show. They do a quality job. It was my first time to work with them and I really enjoyed it.
MSB: You, yourself spent 10 years active duty in the Army, and I see in 2006 you were awarded the USO Merit Award for your continued support of soldiers and their families. Are you still involved with the USO?
CM: Yes, every year I go to Iraq or Afghanistan with the USO. The Jack Daniel’s Toast To The Troops takes me to various installations too. Our soldiers, I think, are the cream of the crop. It’s such an attribute to be able to serve, and the ones who are willing to make those sacrifices, I am thankful for.
MSB: When you look back at how your music career has taken off over the past 10 years, what do you think?
CM: I really can’t believe it. It’s kind of hard to comprehend. I’ve been really focused though, and have approached it [music career] kind of like being in the Army. In 2008 I became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. That’s kind of hard to comprehend. That was huge.
MSB: I can only imagine. That’s quite an accomplishment. When you look forward to the next 10 years, what do you see?
CM: I hope to keep doing what I’m doing. We’ll be working on a Greatest Hits Live in the future, and I’m looking forward to that.
MSB: Speaking of work, I probably need to let you get back to it! See you on the 23rd?
CM: Yes! Looking forward to it. See you then!
“An Evening With Craig Morgan” is Friday, March 23rd at 7:30 p.m. at the McKinney Performing Arts Center. In addition to enjoying Morgan’s entertainment, ticket-holders will also enjoy a wine, beer, and dessert reception, as well as a silent auction. The first 100 ticket-holders will also qualify for a “Meet and Greet” drawing. For more information, or to purchase tickets, click here.