Like many country music artists, Craig Morgan sings about familiar Southern tropes. With lyrics about blue jeans, back roads, Saturday tailgates and Sunday church service, his Tennessee drawl bends the words into rhyme.
"My truck cost less than my champion coon dog / My neck is painted red by the grace of God," Morgan croons in a song appropriately titled "I'm Country."
His penchant for rural diversions and hootenanny extends beyond his lyrics and into his day-to-day life as a country star. Morgan even has his own reality show, "Craig Morgan: All Access Outdoors" that offers fans a look at his lifestyle on tour and at home enjoying hunting, fishing, boating and dirt bike racing. The show began its fifth season on the Outdoor Channel last week.
"I don't have a favorite hobby. My hobby is my life," Morgan said when pressed to pick a favorite pastime.
However, an activity he puts special emphasis on is performing for the troops.
Morgan frequently performs at military bases both in the U.S. and abroad and on United Service Organizations tours. He is extremely proud of his nearly two decades of service to the U.S. military, including more than 10 years of active duty serving in the Army's 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions, followed by another nine years in the Reserves, serving well into his 14-year music career.
His military ties and support made him a logical choice to headline the 59th annual Beaufort Water Festival's Concert in the Park on July 19, given the community's three bases and strong sense of military pride.
"I consider it one of the biggest honors to play for men and women who are serving. They're the ambassadors for the world. It's always a pleasure and to be able to play for them, especially having served myself for so long," Morgan said. "It's a big part of my life."
Morgan recently returned to the U.S. from his 12th trip to Afghanistan performing for the troops. Now he's on tour promoting his greatest hits album, "The Journey: Livin' Hits," which features fan favorites "This Ole Boy," "Redneck Yacht Club" and "That's What I Love About Sunday," in addition to his new single "Wake Up Lovin' You."
At the Beaufort show, Morgan said fans can expect to hear all of those hits.
"I think we've had 16 Top 10 hits, so we try to do as many of those as we can," he said, adding that he is also excited about singing some new material.
In addition to "Wake Up Lovin' You," "This Journey" includes three new songs. There's the hip-hop tinged "Party Girl," the sweet, if ordinary-sounding "We'll Come Back Around" and the heartfelt "If Not Me," which describes a father-son conversation regarding the son's enlistment into the military.
"I want people to hear the changes that have taken place in my music. I think the sound is a lot crisper production-wise," Morgan said. "I feel like I'm singing better and stronger than I ever have in my career. The new music allows me to sing in ways that the singles that people have heard from me in the past on the radio have not allowed me to sing."
Follow reporter Erin Shaw at twitter.com/IPBG_ErinShaw.