Life seems pretty dang fun these days for singer-songwriter Craig Morgan. In addition to polishing up his latest album--his sixth overall and first for his new label Black River Entertainment--he's just released a rollicking tune to radio, "This Ole Boy," and will be watching the debut of the second season of his reality TV show Craig Morgan: All Access Outdoors on Saturday.
If you doubt for a second Morgan's having anything but a great time, consider the content of Saturday's show--he's taking a bunch of Grand Ole Opry members out on a duck hunt! How many faces can you identify in this photo?
The ultimate proof that Morgan's loving life lately, however, comes straight from sitting down and chatting with him, as I did recently. Besides being one of the most genuinely enthusiastic conversationalists out there, he peppers his sentences with tons of infectious laughter and just plain sounds like he's living it up even when he's being serious--as he was when discussing his new album, which he's super excited about and is expected to be available early next year. Enjoy!
Our Country: So, congrats on another season of All Access Outdoors! Which one of your careers are you enjoying more these days--TV or music?
Craig Morgan: Ahhhh...the music! (laughs) But I love the TV stuff. I gotta be honest--it's not like a real TV show! (laughs). Because I'm doing the things that I've always done, the only difference now is I have cameras following me around.
Our Country: Hey, I'd count it as a real show! You do some pretty cool stuff as part of the program. What has been your favorite episode or experience on it, to date?
CM: Season 1 in New Zealand in particular--that was a wonderful, wonderful experience. Very cool. It's one of the few countries that I've been in that I could live in besides the United States, and I've been in--I dunno--30, 40 countries? The arial bow fishing that was featured on Katie Couric's deal--that was pretty cool as well.
Our Country: You also appeared on TV this spring as a guest judge on CMT's Next Superstar. Did you enjoy doing that?
CM: I did. But I always feel guilty when I'm judging people, even though I've been doing this for 11 years, and I've got 14 Top 10s and I'm a member of the Opry. I still feel like I don't qualify to judge someone else.
Our Country: The thing that I found really funny--one of the contestants on Superstar, Courtney Cole, actually works at your new record label, Black River Entertainment. Did you know that going in to the show?
CM: No! I didn't know anything about it because I hadn't even signed my deal at that time. So I went on and did the show, and I come in and I'm meeting with the record label, and I'm over the top about these guys--I just absolutely love everyone at this label, their energy and everything. And I'm so excited, and I've made up my mind that I'm gonna do it, and we make the announcement, and I come back the next day and Courtney's there. I'm like wow, that's...odd! (laughs)
Our Country: Well, luckily, you gave her performance a glowing critique on Superstar!
CM: Yeah, that would have sucked if I'd told her she was terrible or something! But I meant what I said. I thought she was a phenomenal singer. And you know, it's funny because I told her, "I'd love to work with you someday in the studio, produce you or something." And then I get here and I'm like "Hey! Maybe I can produce you, or something!" (laughs)
Our Country: Given that you now have your feet firmly in TV, would you also like to go into film, and do a movie, maybe?
CM: I absolutely do. I'm hoping to get into it. I'm just looking for the right thing. I'm not going to do it just to do it. I want to do it and do it in a big way, and I want it to be a big deal and important and good for everybody.
Our Country: Been offered any parts yet?
CM: Some stuff--it just wasn't the part I wanted to play. My manager and I talked about it and we decided that we would wait until we got the right thing. You know, some people would say you take what you get, but I'm making a dang good living. I don't really need to do it, I just want to do it. And I want to do it right.
Our Country: Now let's talk about your music career. How are things with your new label? You've been on an indie (Broken Bow) and a major label group (Sony) to date--is it fun to be back on the indie side again?
CM: It's unbelievable. It's so exciting. Like I said, they have an energy and an enthusiasm about not only the artists and the music, but the industry. And that's very refreshing. They're not sour, they're not burnt out. They don't go, like, "well, we're gonna have to go visit radio." They get excited about that stuff like I do. I still get that excited today. Very refreshing to be around people who share that same enthusiasm.
Our Country: Sounds different from being on a big major label.
CM: Well, you would think. But I'll tell you, in all fairness to Sony, they allowed me do what I wanted to do.
Our Country: "This Ole Boy" went to radio this week and it's sure to be a party-time hit. Can we expect this vibe throughout your whole upcoming album?
CM: I'm mixing it up for sure. I will have more uptempo stuff on this record probably than any record I've ever done before. I'm not going to say they're all positive uptempos, but they're uptempos. I am throwing in some ballads. I wrote or cowrote about half the project. I know it seems so cliche, and every-frickin'-body you talk to says the same thing, but it's the best I've ever done...I feel like I sang better than I ever sang in the studio. I rested up. We were trying to be real smart about making this record and do it really well.
But I am doing some things different on this record, especially compared to my last album. On the last project...I produced my records since my very first one. And the last record, I wasn't there for a whole lot of it, and I think we lost something in that process. So we made sure when it came time to do overdubs, backgrounds and mixing, we are booking the studio and the people in such a way that I can be a part of it.
Our Country: Just a general question for you about country music's huge popularity these days. Your buddy Blake Shelton is reeling in the viewers on The Voice; we have a country American Idol now. As a country hitmaker, reality TV star, and Opry member, what do you personally think of how big country is getting?
CM: It's never a bad thing when we're in the forefront! (laughs) It's good for every one of us. Any time one of us is successful, I think it's a good thing for all of us. I think we're seeing this surge because of our listeners and our fans. We have loyal fans who watch and are dedicated to what we are doing.
Thanks for hanging with us, Craig! Looking forward to hearing your entire new album soon.
Have you heard Craig's new single? What do you think? Be sure to let me know!
As always, be sure to: