#CMchat Exclusive Interview: Craig Morgan and His American Stories Tour

There are many forms of entertainment. Most expect when they go see a country music singer, they will be entertained in the form of a concert. Every once in a while, there is a special kind of show that’s not just a concert, but instead, it’s an experience. That’s exactly what singer Craig Morgan is aiming for with his new American Stories Tour.

“The concept behind American Stories was to not just do songwriters in the round and not do a standard country show that people are used to. I kind of wanted to bring the two together, but focus on storytelling and how we do it through music and through the storytelling itself.”

Morgan has invited several guests to join him on stage during this tour to sing and tell stories to the audience. This unscripted show will be a different experience every night.

“I was real careful to think about the people that we brought out. I didn’t want it to be just me. When people came to the show, I wanted them to go away with knowledge of what it is we do, and I wanted them to go away with retained knowledge – to hold on to it in their hearts and their heads. So, the way you do that is by telling great stories. We’ve been really blessed with a lot of great storytelling songs and so I bring out songwriters and every weekend’s run is a different songwriter and a different profile person.”

The opening act for every show will be Mac Powell, the lead vocalist for the Christian rock band Third Day. On his latest album, A Whole Lot More to Me, Morgan did a duet with Powell on the song “Hearts I Leave Behind.” It is an emotional song about leaving your mark with people even after you leave this earth. Because of that song, he asked Powell to join him on the tour.

“I put the song on my album just because I loved the song. It’s a very difficult song for me to sing but Mac does make it easier. I was a big fan of Mac himself and his vocals. It was kind of a no-brainer to at least ask and he agreed to do it. He came into the studio and cut it, and it just floored me, the mesh between his vocals and mine. I was so excited to get the product that we got. So that’s why he initially came out and it’s just been phenomenal.”

After Powell plays his 30-minute set, Morgan will come out and perform a few of his greatest hits. After that, he will change the pace of the show and start talking with the audience, filling them in on who the guests are that will be joining him on stage.

“I bring Mac back out and he sits down. I bring out my songwriter. It’s always a songwriter that we’ve had success on the charts with and they also had other success outside of me. These are very prolific songwriters. Then I bring out my daughter, who’s an aspiring singer-songwriter. She gets to perform some stuff and when we answer the questions, she gets to present people with a side of my life as a celebrity that they don’t normally get or see because it’s coming from my child.”

Every show there will also be a special guest that has some kind of connection with the military. From Taya Kyle, the American Sniper’s wife to Medal of Honor recipient Clint Romesha, each of the guests sit on stage alongside Morgan and tell their stories. As a veteran of the U.S. Army himself, the military holds a special place in his heart. He is involved in several military charities and performs regularly on USO tours.

“I have to. It’s who I am. The only reason I left the Army was because I knew if I was semi-successful in this business, I would be able to provide so much more for my family than I could in the Army. I tell people all the time that there’s a trait (in your) gene(s) that people have who serve in the military, law enforcement, fire, any of these service style industries that require you to possibly sacrifice yourself. Well, I’ve figured out that I definitely have that gene, so it’s important for me to fulfill that desire to give. If I weren’t doing it this way, by performing for them, I would be there with them and putting myself in harm’s way.”

For this tour, he has picked a charity to help him give back to those in need in several of the cities.

“The coolest thing is this whole thing is sponsored by Operation Find a Home. They’re an organization that I represent, and they provide mortgage-free homes to military personnel who are having a tough time, whether it be due to injury, disability or just having a tough time. So, it’s a very emotional experience to be out on these shows when we do this. And to give a home to a veteran, it’s just unbelievable and it’s very humbling to be a part of that.”

While he likes the big presentation of an arena stage show, he says he may be the only guy in his industry that prefers doing smaller, more intimate shows.

“My personal preference is to sit on a stage with a guitar and sing songs and tell stories and talk to the people because I want them to understand that there’s more to us than just the rock star lifestyle that they can see at those big shows. I think there’s something to be said when a guy sits on stage, plays guitar and sings and they dig it. That’s really cool. That means you got nothing to hide behind vocally. So, when you are successful that way, it’s a little more rewarding, in my opinion.”

Morgan really wants his audience to get to know him more through this tour, not just as a famous singer, but as a regular person. He has several sides to him and he wants to bring everyone in to see those different sides. On his latest album, he has a song called “I’m That Country” but he says the title track “A Whole Lot More to Me” is a little more reminiscent of who he is.

“I know everything there is to know about trucks. I’ve drank beer on tailgates, and I know every dirt road. I know about barns and hay and making out and holding hands and lightning bugs. I know all that stuff. But I also know the difference between a Cabernet grape and a Merlot grape strictly by the smell. I also love sushi and champagne and caviar. That’s one of the things I try to tell people on this tour. There’s a lot more to us than what you might know, and that’s what we get to do on this tour is describe that and share it.”

Craig Morgan wants to give you an experience to remember when you come to see his American Stories Tour. It’s a little bit of music, a little bit of storytelling and a whole lot of heart. You can find the list of cities and dates on his website.

Author: Shannon Herrold

I'm a self-proclaimed music nerd from Oklahoma who enjoys all genres and can pretty much sing a snippet of any song you can think of. Being a mom of 2, a Zumba Instructor and a volunteer at my kids' school keeps me busy but I can never go to too many concerts. Live music is my passion and I love writing about those experiences.

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