One of the U.S. Army’s most popular recruiting slogans is, “there’s strong, and there’s Army Strong.”
BNA/Sony Nashville star Craig Morgan, thanks to more than a decade of proud Army service, is Army Strong. There may be no more ideal training for the ups and downs of the music business.
He got the news that Atlantic Nashville, his first label, had abruptly closed its doors while he was in a songwriting session in early 2001.
“They told me that Atlantic had shut the label down,” he said to his co-writers. “Okay, where were we? I’m here to do a job.”
Many artists would have panicked at the closure of their record company. But Morgan is made of tougher stuff.
“When the label closed, it wasn’t strange. I’d only had a couple singles out, and coming from my background it didn’t seem like something that was supposed to happen,” Morgan said during a phone conversation in mid-July.
That background includes 10 years in the U.S. Army with the 101st Airborne and 82nd Airborne Divisions. He was in Army Special Forces and several other elite teams, and became the final American ever to graduate from the tough Korean ROK Rangers School. Craig’s Army service took him to more than 40 countries, and his huge commitment to playing for troops overseas earned him the 2006 USO Merit Award, a lofty honor earlier won by folks like Bob Hope and Elizabeth Taylor.
Closer to home, Craig Morgan has had an exciting but also emotional summer. His single, “This Ain’t Nothin’ ” (written by Kerry Kurt Phillips and Chris DuBois) has reached the Billboard Top 20, he just taped an episode of “Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?” in Hollywood, and both his summer tour and his Outdoor Channel program “Craig Morgan All Access Outdoors” are attracting huge audiences.
But in early July, Craig lost his mother, Betty Sue Crockett, who passed of cancer.
“She was awesome, a great woman,” Craig said. “She could sing. She was a mother, that was her job, and she pursued that with more enthusiasm than anybody.”
One of the beauties of “This Ain’t Nothin,’ ” Morgan says, its how the song puts life, love, and family into perspective.
“I think that’s what made the song so special,” he says. “It’s the simple things. We often take how good we have it for granted ‘cause we think of the awful things that are happening and we overcome them. Folks come up to me at my shows or on the radio tour and tell me the impact the song is making in their lives. The problem with a hit is making sure it gets heard, and happily “This Song Ain’t Nothin’ ” is in the Top 15. Country fans love hearing the great stories in our songs, and this one reminds them of their father or their grandfather, and how their parents used to be.”
Craig says he got a huge kick out of doing the “Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?” show and that he’s convinced he’s not smarter than those incredibly brainy kids. But typical of the hectic life a country star has these days, the same day he flew back from the taping in Los Angeles, he played a concert in the Midwest that night.
“This is a spiritually emotionally draining business,” he says. “When you spend more than one-third of your life in the Army, as I did, that will always be a part of who I am and it will affect my decision-making process. The training,the discipline, all of that weighs heavily on how I do business out there. Right after we did that television taping in LA, we came right back and began playing the fairs and festivals several times a week.”
Another TV program which has been a breakthrough for Morgan is the Outdoor Channel show, “Craig Morgan All Access Outdoors,” which combines several of his passions and brings him countless new fans. “I had the idea for that years ago, because I was hunting professionally and was on the pro staff of Hunter’s Specialties,” he says. “The show is as much about hunting and fishing chronicles, and how I integrate my hunting, fishing, and skydiving into my touring life as we go all over the country. We’re bringing lots of new viewers to the Outdoor Channel. I wanted to do my own show for awhile, and I wanted to be in the right place musically when I did.”
The show launched in early July, at 11 a.m. on the Outdoor Channel. How’s it gone so far?
“The reaction has been over the top,” he says.
Once again, Craig Morgan’s huge talents and Army Strong work ethics have taken him and his music to the stratosphere.