Q&A with Opry Member Craig Morgan
Craig talks about new music, the Opry, TV, and staying inspired in 2020.
It’s been nearly 12 years since Craig Morgan was inducted as a member of the Grand Ole Opry, and 20 years since his country music career took hold and he made his Opry debut. A veteran, hardworking Southerner known for chart-topping hits and playing more than 200 shows a year, 2020 looks a little different for the songwriter-singer — but no less busy. We chatted with Craig about how he’s staying inspired, his appearance on the special Opry Salute the Troops show, his new album “God, Family, Country,” and how fans will get to know him on his new show Craig’s World on Circle.
Opry: First and foremost, how are you and your family doing amid COVID-19? How are you staying inspired?
Craig: We’re doing fine. We go back and forth from Nashville to Florida because we have a house down there too.
For me, this is no different than my normal life. The only difference is that I’m not touring and at shows with people. Everything else is normal, like farming between shows, or in Florida or Alaska. Our farm is about 500 acres and there’s a lot to do. I usually don’t have the time to do the things I like to do at home because I’m usually too busy. It’s a welcome, yet unwelcome break, I’m enjoying the time.
I have the new album coming out and we’re still doing everything we would usually do, like the Today Show, Circle, and other interviews, but now we’re doing it via Skype. The thing I miss is the shows with fans, nothing can be a replacement for what we get from the fans and what the fans get from us, but we’re fortunate that the Grand Ole Opry is still going.
It’s been 20 years since your Opry Debut and now you’ll be playing for a different kind of audience this Memorial Day weekend for our Salute the Troops show. How do you feel about keeping the music playing and the circle unbroken as a veteran of the U.S. armed forces yourself?
I’ve always been a part of Salute the Troops, it’s a special show for the Opry. Whether it was five years ago or today, I have always had the gratitude for the stage and it’s just really special to salute the troops.
I appreciate the fact that there are millions of people watching from home. It’s important and it’s cool to know that with something as historic as the Opry, we can continue to serve. I use the word “serve” because I was a soldier, and now as an entertainer it still gives me a sense of doing something for someone. It gives people an escape for a little bit during this time.
I have a song I want to perform for them this Salute the Troops show, it’s called “Holy Water.”
You’ve been busy so far this year, a new show and a new album. Tell me about your experience filming Craig’s World on Circle. What will people learn about Craig Morgan when they watch?
They get to know me. That’s the real me. I’ve heard other people say that when they get on that stage they are completely different. That’s not me. I’m exactly the same person on that stage as I am off the stage.
When they watch Craig’s World, they get to see me. I think when they watch Craig’s World, and see me in a different environment, they will see we are a lot alike. We have the same life, same aspirations, and dreams. They get to meet my friends and family, and see how life impacts me.
On your new album, God, Family, Country, there’s one song that you wrote with a couple of military personnel. Can you tell me about that?
That song is called “Sippin’ on the Simple Life,” as people, we love the simple things in life. Two Army Airborne Rangers came up to me after a show and wanted to write a song with me. We sat down and wrote together, and I put the song back and didn’t think much about it. But I decided to put it on the album and called them and told them I was putting it on the record. They couldn’t believe it.
Speaking of your new album, God, Family, Country is a collection of songs that are close to you — and some songs close to your heart, such as “The Father, My Son, and the Holy Ghost,” in memory of your son — accompanied by new music we get to discover. Can you tell me a little bit about what you hope fans and new listeners will find on this album?
The idea was to give the fans that know me something they like, and something that made me who I am today. I didn’t want to only include radio hits, but songs I thought were smash songs and made really well.
The songs are still relevant today and still get a lot of play. We’ve been really blessed that we’ve had a lot of songs that have done that. Not many artists have had that many songs go gold. The new material needed to meet that criteria — and we made sure that those songs do — something that I thought radio would play and something I enjoy singing, and something that is for the fans and encourages them.
The newest fans are going to discover Craig Morgan — I think some of our older fans will see a strength in my vocals that they haven’t seen before — those that haven’t are coming into my world.
It’s been a crazy year already. What’s your motto for 2020?
Keep moving. A body in motion stays in motion. Keep moving and keep inspiring.
How do you hope to inspire people with music and your new album?
It’s a difficult time. I hope they hear the music that inspires them to be patriotic and see how great this country is. There’s so much negativity out there, I hope it inspires them to be patriotic and grateful for the place that we live.
And I hope that it inspires people spiritually to reacquaint themselves with God, and others to be inspired to share their faith.
See Craig on the Opry’s special Memorial Day Weekend Salute the Troops show, live on Circle and livestreamed on socials, and check out his new album, God, Family, Country, out now.