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From Soldier to Songwriter: Country Music's Craig Morgan



Share This article - He's been a sheriff's deputy, an EMT, and a paratrooper in Operation Desert Storm, and he has made America's Top 40. In the words of one of his songs, Craig Morgan is definitely 'something to write home about.'

Craig Morgan is a new face to country music, but there is nothing new about his true, down-home country sound. He writes and sings the same kind of country he grew up listening to, like George Jones, Merle Haggard, Randy Travis, and Alabama.

Craig hit the scene with his self-titled CD. In 2001 two of his songs landed in the Top 40 charts, "Something to Write Home About" and "Paradise," a true-life story about his years in the Army.

SCOTT ROSS: Did you always have a need to be a singer or songwriter or guitar player?

CRAIG MORGAN: Absolutely not. I avoided it as long as I could.

ROSS: Why?

MORGAN: I was enjoying being who I was. I was an outdoorsman and loved football and hunting and fishing, stuff like that. I think I always had it in me, but I never pursued it until I got into the military.

ROSS: What did you do in the military?

MORGAN: I could tell you, but I'd have to kill you. No. [He laughs.]

ROSS: Just the legal part.

MORGAN: In the beginning I was a ford observer with the artillery. I worked with the ranger battalion and later on had the great fortune of working with the Special Forces units.

ROSS: Did you jump out of airplanes?

MORGAN: A lot of that.

ROSS: Where does the music come into play?

MORGAN: It has always been a part of my life. When we were kids in church, we always sang, and my dad and mom always sang. We had rehearsals at the house. It has always been a part of my life, but it wasn't until I got into the military that I started singing. I got away from home and rather than doing some of the other things that some of the other guys were doing, I sat and played the guitar. I taught myself how to play and I started writing songs as an outlet while I was overseas and away from home.

ROSS: At what point did it get serious and you really said, 'OK, I am at least going to take a shot at a career'?

MORGAN: I won some money. I entered a songwriting contest in the military, and when all was said and done, won the U.S. Army Male Vocalist of the Year out in Korea. My dad said I needed to do some demos. When I came back to the States after Korea, I did some demos for people. First one thing led to another and here I am. It was part of God's plan. I firmly believe that everything that happens, God is in control of it and He's been in control of my life. He had me join the military and spend 10 years in the military so that when I started doing this, I would have a better appreciation of what is going on in my career than these other guys who have never experienced the things that I got to experience. I am 36 years old. I have been an EMT. I was a sheriff's deputy. I have been in the military through a couple of wars. I have done all of this stuff that a lot of guys can't relate to, stuff that they will never understand or have the appreciation for.

ROSS: Craig has spent nearly a third of his life defending freedom. He served in Panama to oust Manuel Noriega and served in the 82nd Airborne Division during Desert Storm. That's why his hit song "Paradise" is so popular. It is about his life experiences.

As a trained guy in things of war, is there a vengeful thing in you?

MORGAN: That's the tough part, absolutely. As a human being, it is 'let's get even.' It is a tough spot. I have a redneck buddy and probably one of the most God-fearing Christians I know. He called me from Home Depot, after I got home, when a couple of weeks had passed. He said, 'I am at Home Depot.' I said, 'What are you doing?' He said, 'There is one of them people in here.' I said, 'What?' He said, 'One of them people is in here, and I am thinking I am going to punch him out.' I said, 'Dude, you can't do that. You are a Christian. Think about what you are saying for a minute and calm down.' As a Christian in an American society, our toughest thing is to not be vengeful and hateful toward people of that nationality just because they are of that nationality.

ROSS: Craig Morgan's music reflects his beliefs in God, family and country, which is the title of his current single. He and his wife, Karen, have been married 13 years and have four children.

Do you like being a husband?

MORGAN: I love being a husband.

ROSS: Do you like being a dad?

MORGAN: Best part of my life.

ROSS: As an Army reservist, Craig could be called back any day to serve his country, but he's not worried about that because of his strong trust in God. He leaves his future, his music career, and his life up to God's plan.

MORGAN: Whatever He throws my way, I will walk down the road and kick the stones out of the way. If it's gravel, we will put our shoes own; and if it is pavement or grass, we'll take our shoes off. Whatever He gives me, I am blessed.

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