- Associated Press - Sunday, June 15, 2014

FLORENCE, Ala. (AP) - Ronald Murphy knew he was hearing something special on that night about seven years ago.

Murphy, a longtime musician from Lauderdale County, walked into a bar across the state line in Tennessee and heard a young man singing and jamming on a guitar. His ears immediately perked up.

“I heard something in his voice that was different,” he said. “It was raw, and he was doing it naturally. I thought, ‘I might want to be a part of that.’ “

So, Murphy introduced himself to the man after the show. The man shook his hands and said his name is Trey Morgan.

“Remember that name,” Murphy said last week. “It’s going to be big.”

Morgan, who grew up in Goodsprings and lives in the Limestone County community of Lester just across the line from Lauderdale County, has signed a recording contract with 50/50 Global Muzic.

It was a relief,” Morgan said. “I’ve worked so hard for so long. I about threw in the towel.”

He laughs when he remembers being notified about the contract. “They said, ‘Congratulations. Now get to work,’ ” Morgan said.

The contract calls for two CDs over four years. Murphy will perform with Morgan and said the sessions likely will be split among the Shoals and Nashville studios. Global is based in New York City but has a Nashville office.

Morgan hopes a single from the first CD will be released in September. He has written several songs, including “Down This Road,” ”All I Brought Home” and “That’s Just How She Goes,” but is not certain what song will be the September release.

Morgan gives a great deal of credit to Murphy for helping him along the way. At 57, Murphy is a sort of mentor to the 37-year-old rising star.

Murphy has used his experience as a lifelong musician to help him navigate his way.

“I’ve learned so much from him, it’s hard to begin to describe,” Morgan said. “He’s taught me a whole lot about musical theory and also a lot of life lessons. We still learn from each other. We play and bounce well off each other, that camaraderie.”

The men also give a great deal of credit to Mandy Church, of Synchronicity PR, who was responsible for connecting them with Global. They said it took a lot of work from a lot of people to reach this point.

It also took a personal comeback by Murphy. He suffered a stroke in June 2012 that caused him to lose movement on his left side.

“I had to reteach myself,” Murphy said.

Doctors told him it would take a year to recover, but he put himself on a faster time line and it paid off.

“Four months later, I was back on stage with Trey. I wasn’t gonna have it, him having all that fun without me.”

The men recently performed together live on a Mobile FOX-affiliate program. They thought it was unusual when someone with the show told them millions of people were watching.

“I thought, ‘That many people are in Mobile?’ ” Morgan recalls.

They later learned the performance reached throughout other cities.

“On the way back, a high school friend from Houston called and said ‘Man, I just saw you on FOX.’ ” Murphy said.

They have had a great deal of experiences during their lives on the road together. One thing they’ve learned is a lot of hard work is involved. Even when they finish a show at a club, they don’t consider the night over.

“We give ourselves a minute to reflect afterward,” Murphy said. “We call it ‘the afterbeer.’ And then we’ll go on and play all night into the morning, him and me, looking at something new to do, another way of arranging this part and that part.”

Murphy said he would not be surprised if a touch of classic heart-filled Shoals sound is detected in the upcoming CDs. The session groups will include a mixture of Muscle Shoals and Nashville musicians.

“The meat of the sound and the band are from here,” he said.

The music also will have the influence of Morgan’s late grandfather, O.T. Terry, who taught him guitar when he was a child. It also will carry Morgan’s own life experiences.

“My life is basically where a lot of it comes from when I write,” Morgan said.

Murphy said he hopes Morgan continues to draw from those inspirations.

“His writing style is killer,” he said. “It’s just amazing the way he writes.”

He said he has a motto: “If you treat someone like they already are what they want to be, then you help them become that,” and he uses that with Morgan.

Morgan said he doesn’t know what the future holds, but he’ll be happy as long as it involves doing what he loves.

“I’ll just be happy making a living out of making music,” he said.

His advice to aspiring musicians: “Don’t give up, man. Even if they don’t like you, don’t give up.”

___

Information from: TimesDaily, http://www.timesdaily.com/

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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