Meet Country Music’s Hottest Traditional Newcomer: William Michael Morgan

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Newcomer William Michael Morgan nets the No. 1 song in country music this week (on the Mediabase chart, at least) with “I Met a Girl,” a song written by Sam Hunt, Trevor Rosen and Shane McAnally. His long-awaited debut album, Vinyl, arrived last week to much acclaim — the set is distinctly traditional, harkening to the early days of Alan Jackson and Randy Travis. At only 23 years old, Morgan shows an immovable understanding of country tradition and how to push the format forward, while also circling back to the music which made it famous to begin with. Songs like “Cheap Cologne,” “Vinyl,” “Lonesomeville” and “Back Seat Driver” are the kind of impactful tracks which make careers.

Along with the likes of Jon Pardi and Margo Price, a cavalcade of new, fresh talent are making waves. The pendulum, initiated by Chris Stapleton’s blockbuster breakthrough last year, is undeniably swinging back in favor of traditional music — at the very least, more diversity is hitting the airwaves. Morgan stands as one of the most promising men of the crop; only time will tell if his single is an anomaly or if he becomes an act with longevity. “That’s what I grew up on. I’ll say this again and I’ve said it in every interview, I’ve been known to call myself traditional too. But I’m just doing the music that I love to do. Just doing the music that I either write or we find that we fall in love with, ‘I Met a Girl’ being included and ‘Vinyl’ being included,” Morgan told Sounds Like Nashville of his musical ambitions.

Originally from Vicksburg, Mississippi, Morgan got his first guitar at 9 years old and later began performing in front of people three years later. Influenced by the music of Keith Whitley and Mark Chesnutt and inspired to pursue his career after seeing a Dierks Bentley concert, the upstart quickly fell head over boots for country music performing. He would later form a band and would independently release an album called Always Country in 2006. He officially moved to Nashville in 2009, at the age of 18 and landed a publishing deal with Warner/Chappell and a record deal with Warner Music Nashville a year later. After four years of honing his craft, he issued his debut single “I Met a Girl” in 2015. Soon after, he made his Grand Ole Opry debut, and the rest is history, right?

Well, not completely. He’s certainly still writing his story, but he is poised to become a household name in 2017.

“It’s been an interesting journey. It’s been a blessing. All of it’s been a blessing, the ups and downs. From five years old listening to a song called ‘El Paso’ by Marty Robbins to 12 years old YouTubing every possible thing I could do between George Jones to Keith Whitley to [Merle] Haggard and [George] Strait and everybody like that to getting my first band together at 15 or 16 years old and coming back and forth to Nashville at that time and actually taking that step and moving to Nashville and signing with Warner Brothers. It’s just been a nonstop ride.”