Country Music People December 2018 - Page 11

I William Michael MORGAN DUNCAN WARWICK SPEAKS TO THE major label star waving the flag for traditional country music. t ain’t easy these days being a traditional country with a major record label deal. It can be hard to be recognised by country radio among the RnB infused pop offerings and even harder to have hit records because of it. William Michael Morgan is one such example of the endangered species. It’s almost a miracle that he ever charted at all with his debut I Met A Girl in 2015, let alone go Top Ten. It probably didn’t hurt that the song was co-written by Sam Hunt, and it neatly connected the worlds of both old and new. Criminally, the follow-up single, Missing, barely cracked the Top 50. Penned by Rhett Akins, it is one of the finest examples of a commercial slice of neo-traditionalism you are likely to hear this side of 2010. Even Akins himself, who can write across the board, says, “I would say my country songs kind of sound like early George Strait,” and he’s not kidding. The title track of Morgan’s debut album, Vinyl, failed to chart at all and those of us raised on a diet of Mark Chesnutt, Tracy Lawrence, Joe Diffie and such feared we might have heard the last of William Michael Morgan on a major label. He’s way too country for that! “I get that. I get that,” says WMM assuredly, “And that’s something that Warner…I have to say, they have been really good with us. With Cody Johnson now...They’re really good at letting their artists, within reason obviously, let us do what we want to do. Be creative how we do it, making music that we want to, say the things that we want to say, and that’s something that I don’t think we would have been able to do if we were at a different label.” The history of his label and their part in the new traditional movement of the mid-80s isn’t wasted on WMM either. “They [WB] turned a lot of things around. Storms Of Life and I guess Randy [Travis] and Ricky [Skaggs]…A lot of people don’t give Ricky Skaggs enough credit either, because he was a huge part of that turn along with Keith Whitley and a handful of others. But that Storms Of Life record was iconic. Still is.” Warner Bros have indeed stood by their artists like few others in this day and age, and new songs have started to trickle out on WMM’s website. Most notable among them is Brokenhearted. It’s another on which Akins is one of the writers, one that Mark Chesnutt would’ve been proud to call his own, and it’s another DECEMBER 2018 - cmp 11