- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 8, 2000

NASHVILLE, Tenn. Once you've survived war, how hard can it be to make it as a country music singer?
Craig Morgan, a former Army paratrooper, is finding out.
He's approaching his new career with the gung-ho attitude of a boot camp trainee, asking questions, working hard and staying dedicated to the mission.
"I'm very much a hands-on artist," says Mr. Morgan, restless and full of energy during an interview in an Atlantic Records conference room.
Appropriately, Mr. Morgan is making his mark with the single "Paradise," a song about his 10 and 1/2-year military career. It kicks off with Mr. Morgan calling cadence.
Many days, the 35-year-old singer-songwriter energetically patrols the offices at Atlantic, prodding employees with questions. Staffers have heard it a hundred times: "What are you doing? What can I do? How can I help?"
Sometimes he gives impromptu pep talks.
"He doesn't do it in a confrontational way," says Jon Loba, who promotes records to radio stations. "He asks educated questions, and there's nothing that I ask him to do that he will not do."
Sometimes, Mr. Morgan does work without being asked.
"The other day I was in Chicago, and I got laid over for an hour," he says. "So I used the time to call [radio] stations all over the United States that have been playing my record, and talked to them and says 'hi' and let them know I appreciate their support."
The tenacity wouldn't matter if Mr. Morgan didn't have worthwhile music to offer. Get past the pedestrian first single "Something to Write Home About" and you'll discover that his album, "Craig Morgan," is an uncommonly assured hard-country effort, especially for a first album.
Particularly noteworthy is the witty and somewhat funky "Ev'rything's a Thing" and the desperate "When a Man Can't Get a Woman Off His Mind."
But for now, most fans will associate Mr. Morgan with "Paradise" and its autobiographical video, filmed at Fort Campbell, Ky., where the singer was twice stationed.
Mr. Morgan was in Panama as part of the effort to oust Manuel Noriega. He has seen plenty of combat, some on secret missions.
The Army is still the defining experience of his life.
"Anybody that's been in the military I think would agree," he says. "You learn so much and you experience so much that it helps chisel or define who you are. It made me rely on myself a lot more."
But his interest in country music also runs deep, to his boyhood in Kingston Springs, a small town west of Nashville. His father, Jack Greer, played bass in a local band called the CML's (for country music lovers), and Mr. Morgan has played guitar and written songs since boyhood.
He continued to pursue music in the service. While he was stationed in Korea, he opened for a performance by Sawyer Brown. Four years ago, he decided to leave the military. He was more than halfway to the 20 years of service for a lifetime pension.
Mr. Morgan has a wife, Karen, and a family to support.
"That was a big chance we took, a big chance," he says. He decided that he could succeed in music, by giving it his all.
"Craig showed me his calendar back in March," Mr. Loba says. "It went all the way through 2000. "He said, 'If you don't have me busy every day from now to Dec. 31, then someone's not doing their job.'

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