He’s a passionate singer with a unique sound who grew up in Appalachia, and you’ll be hearing Morgan Wallen before 2016 is over. Wallen moved to Nashville in July 2015, not sure what he would find, but convinced that he should at least give his dreams a legitimate shot. Less than a year later, he’d already been signed to Big Loud Records, recorded some initial tracks with producer Joey Moi (Florida Georgia Line, Jake Owen) and hit the road on his first radio promotion tour.
It might appear that Wallen’s on the fast track, but it took him a while to get there. Born in Sneedville, Tennessee (a town that also lays claim as the birthplace of bluegrass pioneer Jimmy Martin), to a hard-rock-lovin’ preacher and contemporary-Christian-devoted teacher, Wallen showed his musical interests early, singing in front of the local congregation at age three and asking for a violin for his fifth birthday. He would soon switch to piano and later add guitar to his arsenal, though he never really imagined it was possible to make a career of it.
“I didn’t think that was realistic because I had no clue about how the music business worked,” Wallen says. “Even living three hours away, I had no idea about Nashville.”
Instead, he focused his efforts on baseball, and he was pretty good at it. Playing shortstop and pitcher for Gibbs High School in Corryton, the same school where Kenny Chesney graduated. Wallen earned an offer to continue playing at a major college.
But fate intervened. While pitching during his senior year, he felt a pop in his right elbow and would undergo a tendon replacement procedure. While he was able to continue playing guitar and piano, it proved to be the end of his baseball career.