For most teen athletes pursuing a career in professional sports, a serious injury can be career ending. For Big Loud Records artist Morgan Wallen, it ushered in a shift into country music.
The East Tennessee native had dreams of playing professional baseball. “I played through my senior year. I got a couple of college offers and right before my senior year started, I blew my arm out,” says Wallen. “Those college offers kind of disappeared on me really fast. I went through a time where I didn’t know what I would do with my life, because that’s what I had worked so hard for, for such a long time.”
With his sports career sidelined, Wallen rekindled his passion for music, picking up the guitar and piano, and crafting his own material. A long-time fan of bands such as Bad Company, AC/DC, and Three Doors Down, Wallen credits an Eric Church song for inspiring him to pursue country music.
“I always liked country music, but Eric Church was the first person who made me fall in love with it,” says Wallen. “The first song I heard was ‘Love Your Love The Most,’ and just the imagery, and how he just took me to a place…that song hit me in a way no song ever had before. I started digging into country more, and realized I liked Tim McGraw’s music and Keith Whitley. It’s funny, I told my dad that, and he said, ‘You don’t remember us riding around and listening to Keith Whitley when you were a kid?’ I didn’t remember, but I guess he instilled that in me.”
Wallen was introduced to WME Entertainment’s Kevin Neal, who signed him and convinced him to move to Nashville just over a year ago. “We started sending my music around, and we sent it to Big Loud Records. I came in to play for Clay [Hunnicutt] and the owners, and the week after that they had me play for the staff. The week after that, they offered me a publishing and record deal.”
Though professional label, booking, and publishing deals have come swiftly to the burgeoning new talent, Wallen is intent on making the most of his newfound opportunities.
During a visit to the MusicRow office, Wallen previewed several songs from his Joey Moi-produced EP, including “Stand Out” and “Whiskey Glasses.”
“This is kind of like ‘beer goggles,’ just a little stronger prescription,” he quipped.
Since moving to Nashville, Wallen says he has penned about 70 songs in preparation for his The Way I Talk EP and upcoming full-length album. When he’s not in the writing room or in the studio, he’s been on the road, performing his music for radio stations across the country. It was those station visits that solidified his instincts to make “The Way I Talk” his debut single.
“We had our top three songs that we played for them,” Wallen recalls. “We didn’t have a single picked, but this song was the one that every one kept asking for.”
The rocker takes pride in his Southern roots on the debut single, which drips with Southernisms like “y’all,” and “yonder,” and places his vocal twang front and center.
“I feel this is a song that introduces me to the world in a way I would love to be introduced,” Wallen says. “It embodies me and what I’m proud of. But even though it’s me, I like to think everyone can insert his or her own personal whatever it is to make you relate.”
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