Craig Morgan Greer (born July 17, 1964, in Kingston Springs, Tennessee) is an American country music artist. A veteran of the United States Army, Morgan began his musical career in 2000 on Atlantic Records, releasing his self-titled debut album for that label before the closure of its Nashville division in 2000. In 2002, Morgan signed to the independent Broken Bow Records, on which he released three studio albums: 2003's I Love It, 2005's My Kind of Livin', and 2006's Little Bit of Life. These produced several chart hits, including "That's What I Love About Sunday," which spent four weeks at the top of the Billboard country charts and was that publication's Number One country hit of 2005. A greatest hits package followed in mid- 2008 before Morgan left the label for BNA Records, on which he released That's Why later that same year. My Kind of Livin' is also his highest-selling album, having been certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
Morgan has charted seventeen times on the Billboard country charts. Besides "That's What I Love About Sunday," six more of his singles have reached that chart's Top Ten: "Almost Home," "Redneck Yacht Club," "Little Bit of Life," "International Harvester", "Love Remembers" and "Bonfire." He signed with Black River Entertainment in 2011 and released "This Ole Boy" that same year.
Craig Morgan Greer was born in Kingston Springs, Tennessee on July 17, 1964. He became an Emergency medical technician at age 18, later serving in the United States Army. After taking part in a banquet which honored the military's first airborne unit, he wrote a song about the unit.
Morgan spent ten years on active duty as a Fire Support Specialist in the United States Army, serving in the 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions before launching his music career. He holds Airborne, Jumpmaster, and Air Assault qualifications. While stationed in Korea, he continued to work on his singing and songwriting, winning several awards for both and opening a Korean show for the band Sawyer Brown.
Upon his return home to Tennessee, he worked various jobs to support his family, including as a construction worker, a security guard and a Wal-Mart employee. He would later land a job in Nashville singing demos for other songwriters and publishing companies. The demos led to releasing his first album with Atlantic Records, the self-titled Craig Morgan in 2000. It produced three singles, including "Something to Write Home About," which reached number 39 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks (now Hot Country Songs) charts. The album was produced by Buddy Cannon and Norro Wilson, with co-writing credits from Cannon, Bill Anderson and Harley Allen among others. The album's final track, "I Wish I Could See Bakersfield," included a recitation from Merle Haggard.Country Standard Time critic Jon Weisberger gave the album a mixed review, saying that Morgan had a strong singing voice but that most of the songs were "by-the-numbers." Jim Patterson of The Ledger said that lead-off single "Something to Write Home About" was "pedestrian," but that the rest of the album was "an uncommonly assured hard-country effort."
Late in the year, Morgan charted a Christmas single entitled "The Kid in Me." Morgan left Atlantic Records in early 2001 when the label closed its Nashville branch, but said that he was not afraid of his musical future because he still had a publishing contract at the time.
2002-2004: I Love It:
In 2002, Morgan signed with Broken Bow Records, an independent record label. The label released his second album, I Love It, in March 2003. Leading off this album was "God, Family and Country", a song dedicated to former Nashville session drummer Randy Hardison, with backing vocals from the group 4 Runner. It peaked at number 49 on the country charts. Following this song was Morgan's first top ten, the number 6 "Almost Home". This song also brought him to the Billboard Hot 100 for the first time, peaking at number 59 there. In addition, it won Morgan and co-writer Kerry Kurt Phillips a Song of the Year award from Broadcast Music Incorporated. The album's next two singles, "Every Friday Afternoon" and "Look at Us", both reached the country top 30. By 2004, the album had sold more than 300,000 copies, and its success was cited by Billboard as the beginning of a new wave of commercial success among independently-signed country music artists.
Rick Cohoon of Allmusic gave I Love It four stars out of five, saying that Morgan's songwriting was "well-crafted" and that his service in the Army justified the patriotic themes of "God, Family and Country". Jeffrey B. Remz of Country Standard Time commended the album for maintaining a neotraditionalist country sound, but said that the ballads were "generic".
2005-2006: My Kind of Livin':
Morgan released his third album, My Kind of Livin', in 2004. It included eight songs that he co-wrote, and guest vocals from John Conlee and Brad Paisley on "Blame Me". The first single release, "That's What I Love About Sunday", became his only number one hit on the country charts and a number 51 pop hit. It was also the first number one for the Broken Bow label, as well as the first independently-distributed single to top the country charts in five years and the first independently-distributed single to spend multiple weeks at number one on the country chart since The Kendalls' "Heaven's Just a Sin Away" in 1977. "That's What I Love About Sunday" also placed at number one on that year's Billboard Year-End charts for the country format.
The album's next single, "Redneck Yacht Club", reached number two on the country charts and accounted for his highest peak on the Hot 100, where it went to number 45. After it came "I Got You". Morgan wrote this song while on tour with Keith Urban, with the intention of having Urban record it, but decided to keep it for himself after recording a demo of it.My Kind of Livin' was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America for shipping 500,000 copies, and "Redneck Yacht Club" received a gold single certification for 500,000 music downloads.
Chris Willman of Entertainment Weekly gave the album a B rating, saying in his review that "Morgan's is an idealized Kind of Americana, to be sure. But at least he provides enough writerly detail to avoid setting off smarm alarms."Country Standard Time reviewer Jeffrey B. Remz was generally favorable in his review, saying that Morgan has "a strong voice" and "a number of quality songs," but his review criticized the album's "big and clean" production.
2006-2008: Little Bit of Life and Greatest Hits:
His third and final album for Broken Bow, Little Bit of Life, was issued in 2006. Morgan and O'Donnell co-produced the album with Keith Stegall, a record producer known for his work with Alan Jackson, and Morgan co-wrote four of its eleven songs. The label shipped more than 200,000 copies of the album in its first week, and made special exclusive releases for retailers such as Target and Wal-Mart.
The album's first and third singles, the title track and "International Harvester" (the latter of which was written by Shane Minor, Jeffrey Steele and Danny Myrick), both entered the top ten. In between them, "Tough" reached number eleven. Kevin Oliver of Country Standard Time commended the album's neotraditionalist sound and called Morgan "a classic country singer" but said that, beyond the title track and "Tough," "the traditional sound is mostly wasted."Billboard reviewer Deborah Evans Price gave "Tough" a positive review, praising Morgan's "strong, warm voice" and calling the song "yet another gem" from the album.
A Greatest Hits package followed in February 2008, shortly before his departure from Broken Bow.
2008-2010: That's Why:
On September 18, 2008, Morgan was invited by John Conlee to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Conlee formally inducted him as a member during the October 25, 2008 edition of the Opry.
Although it had been first announced that Morgan would sign to Big Machine Records' sister label Valory Music Group, he instead signed to BNA Records, a division of Sony BMG Nashville. His first album for the label, That's Why, was released in October 2008. Its first single, "Love Remembers", became his sixth top ten hit by early 2009, but follow-up "God Must Really Love Me" peaked at number 26. BNA re-issued the album in May 2009, replacing two of its tracks with the newly-recorded "Bonfire" and "This Ain't Nothin'". The former was released that month as the album's third single, also reaching top ten. In October 2009, the music video for "God Must Really Love Me" won Video of the Year from the Inspirational Country Music Awards. In early 2010, "This Ain't Nothin'" was released as the album's fourth single. It became a top 20 country hit by year's end. Stephen Thomas Erlewine critcized the album for having "uninspired" material, but praised Morgan's "cured country croon". In a more favorable review, Country Standard Time wrote that the songs were "simple but profoundly observant" and compared Morgan's singing voice to Randy Travis.
Morgan's last single for BNA, "Still a Little Chicken Left on That Bone", was released in October 2010. The song peaked at number 37 on the country music charts in January 2011. A month later, he left the label.
2011-2012: This Ole Boy:
On April 1, 2011, Morgan signed with Black River Entertainment. His first release for the label is "This Ole Boy", a song co-written by Rhett Akins, Dallas Davidson and Ben Hayslip that also appears on Joe Nichols' 2011 album It's All Good. The song is the title track to Morgan's first Black River album, This Ole Boy.
Morgan is married to wife Karen and has four children: a daughter, Alex, and sons Kyle, Jerry, and Wyatt. He and his family currently reside in Dickson, Tennessee.
In February 2011, Morgan rescued two young children from a burning house in Dickson, Tennessee, and then manned a fire hose to help put out the fire.
On April 23, 2011 Craig Morgan became an honorary initiate of the Delta Theta chapter of the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity.
Morgan frequently performs at military bases both in the U.S. and abroad. He was awarded the 2006 USO Merit Award for his tireless support of US soldiers and their families. Morgan has been active in raising money for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation.
Morgan has an annual two-day charity (Craig Morgan Charity Fund) for Billy's Place. The most recent, and fifth one, was held in Dickson, Tennessee on August 6-7, 2011. The event raised more than $95,000. Morgan came up with the idea for Billy's Place while serving as an assistant Dickson County sheriff's deputy from 1995-96. Through the Craig Morgan Charity Fund, Morgan plans to provide lasting funding to the home.