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STAR Views: Craig Morgan

By: Estella Pan

Craig Morgan struck gold with his smash hit "Almost Home" from his last album. He'll release a new album in a week [NOTE: at interview time] called My Kind of Livin' and from the way things are going, he just might have another hit or two on his hands!
A side note: one thing I learned from this interview (done during CRS-36 week) is that you might not want to take everything he says seriously! But
 really, behind all the laughs, Craig is a real nice family guy who's not only deeply passionate about making music, but also committed to giving back to the community.

Craig Morgan

Estella: With the upcoming release of your new album, can you tell us what can fans expect on the project?
Craig: A lot of what was on the last CD, but a little more uptempo. Really, it's a lot of the same thing, but I think we did better this time; we got better material.

Estella: You are known for your story-songs. Will there be some of those on your new album?
Craig: Oh yeah! That's kind of my thing.

Estella: How is My Kind of Livin' different from your previous two albums?
Craig: It's a whole lot like the second one, I Love It. Both of these last two albums have been a lot different for the fact that I produced them. There's a lot more of my personality in the production than there was on my very first album. I think that's just a natural progress.

Estella: What are you most proud of about the new album?
Craig: I'm not proud of anything about this album! Nah, I'm just kidding!! You know, let's start with "That's What I Love About Sunday" – the fact that it's a huge hit, I'm proud of that! I'm proud of the fact that we managed to do another record similar to the last one, but again, making a better product. I don't make records for me; I make them for the people who go out and buy my albums. So, I'm hoping they like what we did. I'm just real proud of the whole project, but I'm probably most proud, though, of the photo shoot for this album. I don't look quite as "made up" as I did on the previous one. But, that was because the record label had a whole lot more to do with that one than they did this one; I just kind of kept them out of the picture stuff, because they don't know what they're doing when it comes to pictures! They're just about getting records played. I'm so kidding!! Actually, it's because we had a publicist this time! That's probably the reality; the first time, we didn't have an in-house publicist.

Estella: Do you have a favorite track off the new album?
Craig: I have eleven favorite tracks, truthfully. We listened to probably 2,000 songs for this record, so there are eleven of my favorite songs on there.

Estella: You managed to get two country greats, John Conlee and Brad Paisley, to sing on your album. How did you hook up with the two of them?
Craig: I'd say one country great and a new guy who's ok! I'm just kidding! Brad’s my buddy; he's a great guy! But, I've been a John Conlee fan for a long time; I've done the Opry something like 95 times, so John and I have become friends doing the Opry for the last four or five years. Brad and I have been friends for about five years as well. I actually wrote the song so I could get John [to sing on it], and I was going to get some other new artist – so I just called Brad up, told him about the song that I'd just written. We wanted him to just play on it initially. He said, "Well, you want me to sing on it?" And, he ended up coming in and singing on it and playing [guitar] a little bit. Good friends – that’s how I got them, because they were friends; I called in a favor chip – the "friend and family" favor!

Estella: That's the way to go!
Craig: Absolutely! But, I mean, I'll return the favor, too!

Estella: You mention doing the Opry with John. You sang "Rose Colored Glasses" with him on one of your Opry appearances.
Craig: Yeah, that was probably one of the coolest moments ever! That one, and singing on the Opry with George Jones! That's cool stuff!

Estella: What is your favorite part of what you do?
Craig: This right here. Having interviews, talking to people, getting tired. I'm just kidding! No, really, I love every aspect of it; I truly do! There's nothing in this business that I don't like. The work is a lot, and I will say that the only thing I don't like is being away from home so much. I have four kids, so that's tough. But, the rewards – not only for myself, but my family, and the people who work with me – we reap far more than compensate for the hardships we suffer. That sounded fairly intelligent, didn't it? I worked on that one!

Estella: I see, so you rehearsed that one!
Craig: Yeah, I got that one down! See, I've got a secret tape recorder here, so I'm taping you, and you didn't even know it! [He picks up a cell phone earpiece.] Here, talk right into this microphone. It's pretty sensitive; it'll pick you right up!

Estella: How has it been balancing your career with your family obligations?
Craig: It's tough. I'm lucky I have a very supportive wife. I have an amazing wife; I would never put up with the crap she puts up with! And, I think that's the bottom line. In my entire family, we have a deep, deep faith; we truly believe that God is in charge of everything we're doing.

Estella: It's neat that you put your son in the "Every Friday Afternoon" video. I'm going to get all messed up in a minute with all these different weekdays in your songs!
Craig: Yeah, "Every Friday Afternoon" and "That's What I Love About Sunday" – I'll do a week record next time; I'm going to have a song for every day! My Greatest Hits album will be Craig Morgan: Days of the Week!

Estella: Do you remember the first time you heard yourself on the radio? What song was it and how did you feel?
Craig: It was "Something to Write Home About." It was exciting and neat! There are probably not words to truly describe it. I really look at this as a business. So, immediately going through my head was I'm wondering how much money I made that day from the song getting played! I was fairly nave about the business aspects of the industry, initially, but I've learned a lot. It's an exciting thing every time; anytime I hear your songs on the radio. The funny thing is, now, after I've being in it for four or five years and having a bunch of hits, you go, "Ok, why isn’t this or that station playing it?" or "Gosh, they're playing this song; why aren't they playing the new song?!" You're so wrapped up in the business aspect of things, it's easy to overlook the excitement of what's truly happening. People take it for granted; the everyday person goes, "That's the coolest thing! It must be so cool!" And, it IS very cool; I don't want to underplay the excitement. But, at the same time, it's a business, so that's kind of the way you're thinking all the time. I'm serious, though – I don't want to quit; I LOVE my job! But, it is a job, and that's the way you have to approach it, because when you start recording music for yourself, you're not satisfying the consumer. So, you start to lose fans, you get depressed, and you shoot yourself!

Estella: But, we don't have to worry about you doing that anytime soon, right?
Craig: No, are you kidding?! I like me way too much to shoot myself! You like that? That was a Brad Paisley line right there!

Estella: You've helped raise money for Hunters For the Hungry and other hunting organizations. How did you hear about them and what prompted you to get involved?
Craig: Hunters For the Hungry is an organization I've been a part of for a long time, but this past year, I became the national spokesperson for the organization. And, as spokesperson, it was only appropriate that I do something to raise money for them, aside from just being that guy on the poster. So, we took the extra step. But, other organizations, anytime there's anything involving children – any type of fundraising – if I'm available, I do it. And, that's because it's my, my wife's, my family's commitment. We have kids, so we understand and appreciate what happens in a child's life. Especially in a family where something traumatic happens, we try to do anything we can to help. And, I think we, as artists and in any realm of entertainment, have an obligation to give back to the community, and that's one of the ways you can do it. We just choose children's charities, because we love kids so much.

(l to r): Huntin' buds: Blake Shelton (kneeling),
Craig Morgan
Andy Griggs (standing in a black tee), and Craig (kneeling)

Estella: You go hunting with buddies frequently. Do you have any funny stories you'd like to share?
Craig: Oh yeah! I hunt with Blake Shelton and Andy Griggs all the time; both those guys are my dear friends. But, Blake is not much of a hunter as he wants to be! He tries real hard. We just went on a quail hunt together and he only shot one shot; he says he was only trying to shoot the rooster – the male quail – but the reality was he couldn't figure out how to load his gun, so he was having problems with that. But, we try to educate him and work with him. He quit bow hunting, because he can't hold a beer and shoot his bow at the same time. He doesn't use a muzzler, because it smokes up his truck so bad. But, we're working on him!

Estella: Between you and Andy, I'm sure you'll work it out!
Craig: Yeah, he'll get it!

Estella: What is something interesting about you that fans may or may not know?
Craig: I'm a break dancer! Hey, why do you find that so funny?! It's a true story, you know! I was a paid break dancer.

Estella: You know, you should put some tapes of that on your website!
Craig: Oh, there are videotapes out there! I used to dance professionally; I was part of a group – no joke! – called Salt and Pepper. I know it seems odd, doesn't it? But, it's true! You're one of the first people I've ever told that to, publicly.

Estella: Well, thank you for that distinctive honor! That was all the questions I had for you. Thank you for doing this interview – it's been great fun!
Craig: Did you get everything you needed? Ok, I'm turning my tape recorder off, too!

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