Newcomer Morgan Wallen is still reeling from a whirlwind 2016. The Tennessee native told us in a recent interview that he always had a love for music – he asked Santa Claus for a violin when he was just five years old. By the time he entered his teenage years, however, sports became a central part of his life. “I started getting more serious about baseball and realized that playing the violin wasn’t the coolest thing for a shortstop to be doing so I put that down – I kind of wish I wouldn’t have now, but I did,” Wallen says. After a career-ending injury and a period of confusion, music made its way back into the spotlight. When Wallen picked up a guitar and started playing piano and writing songs, he realized how much he loved it, he recalls. “When I got hurt, that was the moment I realized how much music meant to me, and that’s when I started singing.”
After a series of events, Wallen ended up in Nashville and secured a record deal shortly after moving to town in July 2015. As a twenty-two year old ready to take the next step in the music industry, he explains his whirlwind transition: “It is kind of crazy – I expected to be down there for years. I was prepared to do that, but I ended up meeting some really great people at Big Loud Records, which is my record label now. I took a meeting with them and played for them, and a week later I played for the owners and the staff, and they offered me a record deal.” Wallen started working with Big Loud in early 2016. He credits his parents for their ongoing support during the fast-paced realization of his goals: “I have always had crazy dreams, and they always sacrificed so much for me. When I was playing ball traveling the country they would always come with me.” He continues: “When I decided to move to Nashville they never made me feel like I was crazy, they never told me that I should go to college. They supported me wholeheartedly and I would have never been able to do it without them.”
His debut single “The Way I Talk,” written by Jesse Alexander, Ben Hayslip and Chase McGill, has already tracked over four million Spotify streams. “I have a lot of songs, but that one rose to the cream of the crop for the first single. I felt that it was a good song to introduce me to the world in a way that I wanted to be introduced – I felt that that was the one that was supposed to be first for me,” he explains. The song, an ode to Southern drawls and accents, has a traditional country twang and is especially relevant to Southerners. However, YouTube covers show artists from all over the country changing the lyrics to suit their lives. “I don’t want it to be held to just a Southern thing that is about me and my views that fit me,” he says. He hopes people from New England to Australia can identify with the song. “I have gotten so see some cover songs on the Internet,” he says. “It has been really cool to see people receiving it the way I was hoping.”
Wallen kicked off 2017 with news that he’ll be joining Florida Georgia Line’s “Dig Your Roots Tour” as an opening act for several dates. He says just thinking about it gives him goosebumps: “When I found out I got the FGL dates, it meant the world. I have written with those guys and we have become friends. I am so grateful to them for giving me this opportunity, and actually the very first weekend that I am going to be out with them will be my hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee, so I can’t wait.” Having attended the Thompson Boling Arena in Knoxville for concerts growing up, this is a dream come true for Wallen.
Looking back on his journey since he moved to Music City, Wallen explains that right after he signed his publishing deal he was given the opportunity to write with heavy-hitter Craig Wiseman. He describes the moment as his “sink or swim” moment. He speaks highly of Wiseman, proudly telling us that at least one of the songs they wrote together will make his debut album. Wallen’s songwriting process differs every time he sits down to write, but his favorite part is “getting into writing rooms with all of these incredible writers and blending our creativity,” he says.
When asked about his plans for this year, he responds: “I am working on my debut album and I am no rush. I am really blessed to be working with and surrounded by really great, hard-working people.” He hopes that fans can relate to the songs he chooses to record and that they’ll love the melodies and sounds he establishes.
Apr 27 Dig Your Roots Tour w/Florida Georgia Line Charleston, SC
Apr 28 Dig Your Roots Tour w/Florida Georgia Line Charleston, WV
Apr 29 Dig Your Roots Tour w/Florida Georgia Line Knoxville, TN
May 03 Dig Your Roots Tour w/Florida Georgia Line Hamilton, Canada
May 04 Dig Your Roots Tour w/Florida Georgia Line Ottawa, Canada
May 05 Dig Your Roots Tour w/Florida Georgia Line Montréal, Canada
May 06 Dig Your Roots Tour w/Florida Georgia Line Québec, Canada