“Speaking of George Jones. It was his birthday the other night. We played the Ryman. I did ‘Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes,’ a George Jones song, in tribute to him. Talk about feeling the jitters then,” laughs Morgan. It’s a poignant reminder of where Morgan is currently positioned in his career.
In the song, Jones sings, “You know this old world is full of singers, but just a few are chosen.” He continues by musing on the music of Cash, Haggard and Twitty that the song reminds you of – “All your radio heroes.”
Though he doesn’t say it, the 6'2" Morgan may well be the answer to the questions in mister Jones’ song.
Who’s gonna fill their shoes?
Who’s gonna stand that tall?
Who’s gonna play the Opry?
And now, it’s Morgan’s music that is reaching out and touching people.
“It’s just different for me to hear people be influenced by my music. You know, I have had people hit me up and say, ‘man I love your music’ or ‘you inspired me to do this’ or, or, ‘we played your song at our wedding!’...and ‘you know my grandfather was going through a hard time…’ I have heard so many stories, and for them to relate my songs to what’s going on in their lives, man, that’s one of the main reasons why we do it, or why I do it at least.”
Even following the excitement of these stories, he ends on a note of sincerity, sharing that he hasn’t lost sight of how those other artists resonated with him.
“Just to think that I may have just a little bit of that for somebody else is mind-blowing,” intones Morgan.
Taking to a stage is a connection that requires an unspoken covenant. You are beholden to those who stood before you and those who will stand after you. You must believe in the work, must be passionate, because you aren’t just standing on that stage for yourself. As Morgan shared, a single word from a stage ripples throughout your audience in ways you may not foresee but will resonate with you. When performing for others, Morgan understands that for his audience, in that moment, he is the sum total and embodiment of years of musical history and meaning. The newest note in the melody of their lives. Whether it was standing on the stage at Conclave 2019, or the impromptu stage of a private acoustic set in the hotel lobby that evening, he became connected with a new song this year — the song of TKE.
For an artist like Morgan, every stage contains a heritage, and every heritage tells a story. Even with the weight of that history resting on his shoulders, he admits that he’s not trying to do something or be something that he isn’t. So, he sings the music that tells his story. His heritage. He has found the stages that suit him, and while some things in life are difficult, those stages have lent him wisdom beyond his years.
“The easy part is just staying true to who you are. No matter what you do. If you do the pop stuff, if you do the rock stuff, if you do the R&B stuff, man, if you do whatever you do, just do it. Be you.”