The 35-year-old singer from Nashville says 'The Voice' gave her a chance to try something new.
We’ve all heard the witticism attributed to Albert Einstein that the definition of “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” So, when Morgan Myles got a four-chair turn for her Blind Audition on season 22 of The Voice, she decided to do something different.
The 35-year-old singer has spent the last 16 years in Nashville trying to launch her music career but it has been slow going, so when the four-chair turn had a choice of all four coaches—Blake Shelton, Camila Cabello, Gwen Stefani and John Legend—she decided not to go with the obvious and pick Blake, but to try something new and go with Camila.
“The show hasn’t really shown this yet, and I don’t know if they will, but it is not a myth that females in country music have had a very, very hard road for the last decade, and I’ve been in that mix,” Morgan told Parade in this exclusive interview. “It was like, ‘Do I continue down the road where I’ve hit my head up against the wall just because of the fact that I’m female in a genre? Am I choosing a genre or am I choosing me?’ And that was hard.”
After making the decision to choose herself, Morgan walked over to where her parents—who are very supportive, by the way—were standing by host Carson Daly, and collapsed in her father’s arms, telling him, “I just couldn’t do it again.”
What she mean by that is she has been in management deals and had meetings with heads of labels, who haven’t been able to help her build her career, so to hear when Camila, John and Gwen told her she was in her own lane, it was a breath of fresh air.
“I believe 100 percent that there is a country lane for me,” Morgan continued. “It’s just finding the right people to really see that. I knew if I went on Blake’s team, it was going to be very, very country genre artist heavy. And I knew Camila would get me as a songwriter because she has cut songs that are actually country songs. So, I knew she’s going to go after emotion. She reminds me more of the Kelly Clarkson of the show this season. I have that personality, so I knew we could laugh together, and she has been an awesome choice. I’m so glad she is my coach.”
Making it to the Live Playoffs has indeed shown Morgan that she made the right decision in her choice of coach. The fact that Camila was a contestant on The X Factor has helped their communication and the fact that Camila has admitted to Morgan that she is still a work in progress has been another plus.
“This is why we relate a lot to one another about how I can put self-love and work into myself,” she said. “We talk about that. But I love the fact that here’s somebody that's on the top of her game and she has to keep herself accountable and be OK with the fact that she’s going to make mistakes.”
One of those mistakes directly affected Morgan. During the rehearsals for the Knockout Rounds, Camila had advised Morgan to make bigger gestures with her arms, but it wasn’t a comfortable situation for the singer and the other coaches noted it and commented on it during their critique. That said, Camila owned it to the other coaches, admitting it was her advice.
“She liked how I performed,” Morgan said. “The thing is, Camila is very dramatic with how she performs. In the country genre, you don’t do that. I’m learning that balance of how I cannot get so much into my head and get down on myself. I am human, not everyone’s going to understand me. And I really appreciate that about her. And coming from somebody that’s under a microscope right now, it’s obvious she’s doing it.”
During our interview, Morgan also talked about how hard it was to compete in the three-way Knockout Rounds, her hopes for the future and what she thinks The Voice will do to help her, and more.
You made it to the Live Playoffs, which is not an easy thing to do. In your packages we’ve seen you talk about being humble, so were you relieved when you made it through to the Live Playoffs? What was your emotion like?
To be honest, I was relieved to even get the audition. The whole thing, it’s so intense. For me, music’s never been a competition because music to me is up to everybody’s opinion. Some people are into R&B, some people are into heavy metal, it’s just such a gamut and the show puts together all these genres and you just don’t know what people are looking for.
And so here I’m up against Chello, who I think has so much talent, and Orlando Mendez, he’s singing “Live Like You Were Dying,” and he had just lost his uncle. I was very close to Orlando and I’ve seen him break down about his uncle passing. I was just so teary through the whole thing.
And then I remembered that I won the Knockout. It wasn’t until maybe a week and a half later that I was able to process the positive side of making it to Top 16 because I just felt bad. There were so many people that went home after the Knockouts. We all were together on a plane going back to Nashville and you’re just like, “Man, what just happened?” It took a while to process.
One of the things that has stood out about you is that your song choices have been so interesting. Never in my mind would I have thought of “What the World Needs Now” as an option, especially the way you put your spin on it. And for your Blind Audition you chose “Hallelujah,” which is a difficult song to sing. Explain your process in selecting the songs that you’re performing.
Prior to going onto this show, and how I am as an artist, I really believe music is healing and it’s therapeutic. “What the World Needs Now Is Love” is absolutely correct and current. It’s a classic song but I took it more angsty. Maybe some of the coaches didn’t really receive it the way that I was hoping people received it, but Camila really understood that.
I really believe that hate is not going to resolve hate, we have to come from a place of love and acceptance. We have been through so much in the last two years and I believe music has that ability to bring people together. It’s a universal language, it has an emotion to make people feel good and accept one another. And that’s where I was coming with that song choice.
“Hallelujah” is my favorite song ever written. I have so much respect for it. I remember them saying that I will be singing this for my Blind Audition, and I remember crying because what an honor. It’s just such a beautiful song that travels with you through different ups and downs in your life. It’s heartbreak, but it’s such a deep-bodied emotion of you have to experience life to deliver it.
I think my song choices are coming from a place of being a songwriter. I know my next song is definitely from the songwriter-storyteller place. I just want to deliver stories that make people feel something and make them walk away going, “Ahh, I needed to hear that tonight.” That’s all I ever want to leave with people.
As a singer-songwriter yourself, songs by other singer-songwriters are probably what you relate to.
It is difficult being on a show like this where you can’t sing your originals that you worked your whole life to write, which are my everyday life. So, it is difficult because you want to make sure that people really feel what you’re saying, and when you’ve written a song it’s such an easier process.
It sounds like they should create a category for you called country/soul because everybody’s talked about how much soul you have in your voice.
Exactly. I thought when Chris Stapleton finally, finally hit the CMA’s with Justin Timberlake and finally got his huge break after years and years and years, I was like, “Great, this whole avenue for a female Chris Stapleton, a female country-soul artist is going to be acceptable.” And it just didn’t happen. That lane just wasn’t there when it came to females. And I still don’t understand why. But do I think I’m country/soul? One hundred and ten thousand percent.
What are you hoping that The Voice does for your career that you haven’t been able to do on your own?
I’m constantly on the road playing a lot of venues and states, 100 percent, I would like the help of selling tickets and getting people to my shows. So that’s a huge thing for me because I love touring. But that anxiety that comes with, “Oh, my gosh, I hope the venue doesn’t hate me if I don’t sell out.” That’s just part of it.
Today, there’s so much social media overload, and it’s still very, very difficult to get on television. To get this type of marketing and promotion from The Voice is beyond. It’s amazing and incredible.
I’m not sure if this is correct but I overheard that it’s like 8 million viewers an episode. It’s just like, “Wow!” You hope that somebody’s tuning in and they become a fan. All you want is that exposure to see, “OK, does this person relate to me? Would they want to buy a T-shirt? Would they like my album? Do they want to come to my show?”
And then there’s the other million or two that see you on YouTube.
Yes! Oh, my gosh. I just kept getting very emotional after my Blind Audition because I think I had seven million views on Facebook alone. And I was like, “OK, this just doesn’t happen every day.” It was mind boggling.
So, you’ve already released music but do you have songs that you’re holding back for after The Voice is over?
Absolutely. I actually had stuff ready to release at the beginning of last year, but this process started and I didn’t have time to get it out the way that I wanted to get it out. Yeah, I’m writing still. I never stop writing. But yes, I’ve got probably at least eight songs completely finished at this point.
So, you don’t have to do anything else but music? You don’t have to wait tables, you’re making a living?
Yep, I am.
But the dream is just to do it on a bigger level?
Yes, I’m definitely doing it but the struggle is real. I’ve put my time in and you get to a point of like, “OK, it’s either going to move up a level, or…” because this is just so tough. Being on the road is not easy. People think it’s glamorous. But when you’re not in a tour bus, you’re in your 15-passenger van and you’re trying to make eight-hour trips day by day, it’s just a lot. It’s not easy and you’re exhausted.
Last year, I played 117 shows, killing myself. I made decent money, but the reality is with that much work, you’re hoping that eventually it’s going to pay off to be a bit better. That’s why I went on The Voice. It’s just like something’s got to give and if I’m not meant to be doing this than, OK, please show me because I have other talents.
If you win and you get the record deal, they may not let you do the kinds of music that you want to do. Have you considered that?
I’ve worked at labels; I’ve interned at labels. As far as Nashville goes, if I end up at Universal Republic, I’ve literally interned there, so I know the people. It’s all about working together as a team to say, “OK, what’s the compromise? Where do we go from here?” I think I just know too much about the business side to not be like, “How do we make this work? You want to be successful; I want to be successful.”
I’m not afraid of that side. I think people maybe look down on these contracts, and the contract that we have signed is the typical contract that you would sign in Nashville right now. It’s not too far off. Why wouldn’t they want to take an artist that just had that many eyes and free marketing on them and not use it to their advantage versus somebody that hasn’t been exposed?
That is such a great attitude.
I think you just have to see the glass half full with that. I’ve talked to some other contestants that either won or made it as a runner-up and it’s all about how you strategize after the show to be honest. This is just a beginning stepping point.
The Voice airs Monday and Tuesday nights at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.