Morgan Evans, Warner Music Nashville, Warner Music
A new generation of Nashville music star
Morgan Evans is not your typical Nashville music star. For a start, he was born in Newcastle, Australia. For another, his music style, harnessing the power of a loop pedal, has drawn more comparisons to Ed Sheeran than Kenny Rogers.
None of this has stopped Evans from becoming a fast-rising star of the Nashville music scene. He signed to Warner Music Nashville in 2017 and released his single, Kiss Somebody, later that year. It has generated more than 21 million on demand streams in the US alone and Evans was named by Amazon Music, Billboard, Google Play and Pandora among others on their 2018 ‘Artists to Watch’ lists.
John Esposito, Chairman and CEO of Warner Music Nashville, says: “I knew Morgan was a special talent from the first time I heard him play. He was signed to our Australian company, but harboured the ambition to come and build his career in the U.S. We were only too delighted to take him on and support him as he builds his career here.”
Evans began his music career in high school, playing in a local rock band. In 2007, he won a competition called the Road to Tamworth and, for his prize, flew to Nashville and recorded a single. Subsequently signed to Sony BMG in Australia, he released his debut EP, Big Skies, which received airplay on Australian country music stations.
By 2012, Evans had signed a deal with Warner Music Australasia. He released his eponymous debut album which became a Top 20 hit in the mainstream Australian album chart. He also became a huge celebrity on the Australian country music scene, opening tours for the likes of Taylor Swift.
The next logical step for Evans was to relocate full-time to Nashville, which he did in 2017. He also moved label from Warner Music Australasia to Warner Music Nashville.
Evans says: “Moving to Nashville was a big deal. It felt daunting at times, but I’ve always loved Nashville music and I wanted to dive right in. You’re surrounded by the best songwriters and musicians in the world and you pretty soon need to make a choice to be intimidated or inspired.”
2017 was a standout year for other reasons as well. In December, he married American singer-songwriter Kelsea Ballerini. He wrote the song I Do about their wedding and it went on to become a Top 10 hit in Australia. He’s started 2018 on a high too, touring with the likes of Cole Swindell and James Blunt, while working in-studio with producer and songwriter Chris DeStefano on his forthcoming second album.
Evans is one of a new generation of Warner Music Nashville international priority acts. Streaming is gaining traction among traditional Nashville music fans, which is helping propel artists into the global charts and introducing their music to a wider international audience.
Esposito explains: “In the same way that the adoption of streaming in Latin America helped propel Latin music into the global charts, the transition to streaming by Nashville music fans offers us an unprecedented opportunity. In the past we’ve only occasionally seen traditional country stars crossover to the mainstream, but now Nashville music is much more a part of the mainstream in the US and overseas.”
Evans recently spearheaded his international campaign with performances at the UK’s Country2Country (C2C) music festival in London and Glasgow. Now in its sixth year, C2C has become a major global platform for Nashville acts.
Esposito says: “It’s amazing. The audience sang along to every word of our artists’ sets. This is music that isn’t getting played on British radio yet. People are discovering it elsewhere and streaming is obviously a massive door opener for us. Our UK labels are putting their hands up to work with Nashville artists because they sense there’s a real opportunity here.”
Evans concludes: “I was stoked to be asked to play London and Glasgow for C2C. I think that Nashville music can travel around the world and has a home wherever fans value great storytelling and amazing tunes.”