Hailing from a tiny town called Sylva, deep in the Great
Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, John Morgan
knows exactly where Country music comes from. And
after signing to BBR Music Group via Jason Aldean’s
Night Train Records imprint, he’s got strong ideas about
where it’s going.
With a style that’s defined by melodic grit and a
craftsman’s approach to songwriting, John brings a
blue-collar toughness to Country that’s pulled straight
from the only life he knows. Because to him, it’s time the
genre rediscovered its rugged side.
“I think Country is coming back,” he says with steely-
eyed confidence, ready to challenge a mainstream gone
soft. “I think people are looking for that organic Country
feel and everything that goes with it. I love Pop Country,
too, don’t get me wrong. But I think it had a big moment
and now people are ready to hear something different.”
If he plays his cards right, John may just be that
something different. He certainly started out that way.
Growing up in the Appalachian foothills, he was
surrounded by natural beauty and natural music –
which add up to a time-honored way of life. Immersed in
Bluegrass tradition from before he could hold a pick,
John grew into a talented guitar player, and for him,
music was just part of the culture.
“It’s kind of handed down, and there’s a lot of people who just grow up with it,” he explains. “They don’t play out or try to pursue it, it’s just something you do – you grow up playing guitar or banjo—it’s part of your family heritage.”
John, however, was one of those people who did pursue it. His guitar playing began at eight years old, and by 10 he was good enough to hold down the rhythm section of a family band. They toured the Bluegrass-festival circuit each summer, and even though he gave it up for a stint in college, music had a hold on him.
After John returned home he fell right back into his old ways, inspired by six-string legends from Tony Rice to John Mayer. His guitar-playing obsession intensified and he began writing songs—making regular trips to Nashville and falling more in love with Music City each time. But it was a conflicted time, since John was also laying down roots at home. He bought an acreage and even began fixing up an old house … and then everything changed.
“I remember, I was sitting up on the main beam of the house, putting a roof on and it hit me,” he recalls. “It was like God was trying to get my attention, and suddenly I was like ‘I don’t feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.’ I haven’t had many of those moments in my life, but I remember sitting there like ‘I’ve gotta move to Nashville.’”
John followed the calling. He sold his land and toiled in nine-to-five obscurity for more than a year, before an only-in-Nashville story involving Uber drivers and impressive demos led to a writing session with Kurt Allison and Tully Kennedy, who are incredible songwriters and longtime bandmates of Country superstar Jason Aldean. The hard-rocking Country tastemakers immediately recognized John’s potential, and Aldean agreed. After cutting several songs written by John, including his latest single with Carrie Underwood, “If I Didn’t Love You,” Aldean signed John to Night Train Records.
Now, as John works toward his debut, he’s like an apprentice to Aldean and his crew, learning to fuse guitar-driven country muscle with heart-on-his-sleeve firepower – and a bit of his Bluegrass background. John’s sleek, electrifying style features a hint of danger inside its sonic beauty, standing like the musical embodiment of his upbringing: A rugged backbone of Appalachian roots. A knack for the dark vs. light emotional contrast of Bluegrass. Calloused hands and tender heart.
“It’s kind of inevitable, I did it so long and it’s so engrained in me, it’s hard not to have those rootsy influences,” he explains. “I think Country is probably one of the most accepting genres of music and I love how many different sounds you get in one place. My goal is to have that classic-Country vibe with some modernization.”
John’s debut tracks will begin rolling out in 2021, kicking off with “Coldest Beer in Town” (available now) and he’ll be featured on Aldean’s Back In the Saddle Tour as it crisscrosses the nation. It seems his hard work and toughness is already paying off, but John knows there’s much more to come.
“All I’ve wanted since I got to Nashville was to make a living and have my buddies come out on the road with me – that was the dream,” he says. “To be honest, it still is. But I never saw this happening the way it did, and now my goal is to headline stadium tours and become successful in a way that benefits everybody who got me here. I’ve still got a long way to go—I’ve never been the most talented guy in this town. But I will say this: ‘You can always outwork somebody.’”