MOUNT VERNON — When Craig Morgan was 10 years old and on a school field trip to Nashville, he sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” well enough to catch the ear of a distinctive older lady in the crowd.
“She walked up to me and said, ‘Son, someday you’re gonna be a famous singer,’” Morgan remembers. Two-plus decades later, he’d be looking at a picture of that woman — Minnie Pearl — in the Ryman Auditorium dressing room that bears her name, getting ready for his first performance on the Grand Ole Opry.
Morgan will be the headline performer at this year’s Knox County Fair. He will perform in concert on the grandstand stage on Friday, July 30, at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are available at the fairgrounds secretary’s office or by calling 397-0484.
“That’s Why,” the long-awaited follow-up to 2006’s “Little Bit of Life,” is Morgan’s fifth album and BNA Records debut. From the evocative and instantly familiar single “Love Remembers” to the rural rally cry of “Sticks” to the church-choir epic “Ordinary Angels,” it’s the sound of an artist soaring to new heights as both a vocalist and songwriter, but with his steel-toed boots still firmly on the ground.
“That’s What I Love About Sunday,” from Morgan’s 2005 album “My Kind of Livin’,” was the most played country song that year. Three songs off of “Little Bit of Life” — the title track, “Tough” and “International Harvester” — enjoyed stays in the top 10. Morgan was nominated for Top New Male Vocalist by the Academy of Country Music in both 2006 and 2007. He’s also had hits like “Redneck Yacht Club” and “Almost Home.”
Morgan spent 10 years on active duty in the 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions and goes overseas to perform USO shows every chance he gets. He’s also been an EMT, a contractor, sheriff’s deputy and a Wal-Mart assistant dairy manager before hitting the big time on stage.