The career of Craig Morgan has seen more twists and turns than the Highway 49 near Vanleer, TN that he calls home. Even so, the Black River recording artist told Billboard in an exclusive interview that he wouldn’t change a single thing concerning his career.
“I feel the same way today as I did in April of 2000,” he says of the period when his debut single, “Something To Write Home About” hit the charts for Atlantic. “You look at every road we’ve taken, and I’m still here. We’ve had hits. We’ve had our ups and downs. This is my fourth record label in twelve years. A lot of guys get one shot. I just finished my sixth or seventh studio project, and we’re about to have another huge hit. I think this will be my biggest selling album ever. We’re looking at having our best first week of sales ever, and I’ve been on two major labels and another independent. So, I’ve had success.”
He adds, “We’ve sold millions of records, and had top ten hits. So, looking back, would I tell myself anything? Absolutely not. I would cry watching myself make that debut on the Grand Ole Opry, and here I am as a member. It’s pretty humbling.”
The single and album (due out Feb. 28) that Morgan is referring to are both titled “This Ole Boy,” and he is proud of his new label affiliation with Black River — also home to rising stars Sarah Darling and Due West. “I felt like they had more going on, and more potential as an independent than anybody out there. I’ve had a great deal of success as an independent with Broken Bow, and I see the same mechanisms here as I did there.”
There was also one other thing that Black River had that was apparent when he walked into the offices. “So, all those things were in play, but the most important thing was that everyone there from the receptionist to the COO is excited about the music business and the industry. They love this business, and it’s fun to go to work at the office, and they feel that excitement. I carried that energy into the studio when I made this record.”
The video for “This Ole Boy” features actress Angie Harmon as Morgan’s love interest. When asked about working with Harmon, Morgan deadpanned “It was tough, but I did my job,” he said with a chuckle. “I had never met Angie up to that point. We had talked a few times, but I absolutely fell in love with her as a person. She showed up on the set, and we clicked really well. We have a lot of the same common interests, and share a lot of the same values and morals. We’ve since become friends, and looking forward to working more with her.”
Another song that Morgan can’t wait for his fans to hear is the up-tempo “Corn Star.” The song has already inspired a T-shirt that has become one of the most popular items at his shows. Two of Nashville’s hottest tunesmiths offered him the song.
Jeffrey Steele and Shane Minor started writing that song, and they called me. Shane said ‘We’ve got a song we want you to hear.’ I told them I loved it, but there were some things that weren’t Craig Morgan that we’d need to fix, and I asked if I could rewrite it. They said ‘Go ahead,’ so I made some changes that made it personal, but it was their idea. I believe that song is an absolute hit. I believe when we get that on country radio, it will be as big of a hit as ‘International Harvester’ was.”
All in all, Morgan is as excited as he’s ever been for fans to hear the new music, and he thinks his new label affiliation will be a great fit for everyone. “It’s all about the caliber of music, and the ability to promote that album,” he says. “It no longer has to be a major label to do that. The independents now have the ability to do what the majors can’t – react quickly. I experienced that first hand. I’m seeing the success that independents can have. It’s all about the song,” he says proudly.