By Tracy Dietlin
Lisa Lynn Morgan has been gracing our desert stages with her soulful, passionate and powerful vocals for the last 7 years. She has won 4 CV Music Awards for Best Country Artist/Band and 1 for Best New Band and is nominated again this year for Best Country Artist, Best Female Vocalist, Best Frontwoman and Best Club Promoter for Big Rock Pub where she has worked as the Marketing & Entertainment Director and Talent Buyer, booking both National touring acts as well as nurturing the local talent. She has also been the head music writer for CV Weekly for the past 6 years. She took some time out of her crazy schedule to answer a few questions for us.
CVW: Tell us about how and when you got started performing? Also how it felt after taking time off from your music career and those first few shows performing again?
Lisa Lynn Morgan: “It had been a long journey struggling between being a young mom and wanting to be an artist. I finally decided, after a stint in Vegas, that I wanted and needed the security of a day job… a career that had more potential to support myself and my family. I was standing on the stage at the Monte Carlo with a couple of contracts pending and a New Year’s Eve booking at the Stardust for Y2K. Twelve years later, James St. James, my friend and favorite drummer insisted I get up and sing one with the band at Palm Desert Country Club. Sean, the booking manager at PDCC at the time, booked me for New Year’s shortly after hearing me sing that night. I was teamed up with Meltdown, and it seems it all took off for me again. The music in a musician never dies… it just stays quiet for a time and then comes back with a vengeance, I guess. I was scared to death for the first year. It was like starting all over again. But it was something I was once again compelled to do, and I’m grateful to have it back in my life.”
CVW: You’ve come a long way in the last 7 years personally and professionally. How does it feel to finally have come into your own as a performer?
Morgan: “I don’t know if that’s actually happened yet, actually. I feel like I’m still finding my voice and seeing what I am capable of. The drive for me is to dive deeper into ways I can connect with people through music. I’ve been chronically blessed to play with some of the best, highly decorated and experienced musicians who have loved me and believed in me more than I do myself. It kind of feels like I’m just getting started.”
CVW: How does it feel to have won the CV Music Award for Best Country performer how many times now?
Morgan: “It’s pretty awesome. Anyone who says it isn’t, isn’t being real. There are only a few ways we, as artists, can receive acknowledgement that what we’re doing is worth the huge investment in time, sacrificing other things in an absolutely upside-down business plan. CV Music Awards not only gives us a platform to be celebrated, but a tool to help us work more, which in turn helps us record more. As far as this year’s awards go, I see some beautiful possibilities for new winners in the country music category. Don’t get me wrong, I like winning. But I also like seeing the genre grow, especially from those creating new music that the country music industry could benefit from. We’re all one big musical family when it comes right down to it. And as corny as it sounds, I truly love being part of helping other succeed, either through writing about them or booking them. When one of us win, we all win. There’s enough good feels and success for all of us to share.”
CVW: I know you were working on an album. How is that coming along? Release date?
Morgan: “I’m at the mercy of the old day job, so it’s been difficult lately to give it the time and attention needed. 6 songs are produced waiting for vocal tracks. Chris Unck at High Lonesome Studio in Joshua Tree has produced my originals brilliantly. He even recorded me playing piano on a gorgeous 1899 grand piano… something I thought I’d hand off to a more experienced player. I am overwhelmed to hear my songs through his creative expertise, and I’ll be taking my time to make sure the vocals are right.”
CVW: Do you continue to write new music?
Morgan: “Always. There are piles of lyrics all begging for my attention. I already have a few for the next album.”
CVW: How difficult is it to work a fulltime job at Big Rock that requires a lot of after hour work booking the entertainment and keeping your own career alive?
Morgan: “It’s been the challenge of a lifetime. Balance seems to be the ever-evasive goal. I can’t complain too much – I’m doing so many things that I love and feel I am built to do. To be a productive human being after spending a good chunk of my life held back by self-doubt, alcohol and bad decisions, I’m determined to make the best of all the opportunities I’ve been given and am grateful for all of them, especially to the people who have trusted me with them.”
CVW: How do you feel your live shows have changed over the last several years?
Morgan: “I’m more fearless, I’ve found more notes in my range and my desire to connect with the audience has truly begun to affect everything I do. I’m still having fun because I’m letting myself take risks and have musicians in my life who encourage and praise it.”
CVW: You guest host at Pappy’s open mic often. Tell us about that experience?
Morgan: “It’s an incredible gift and honor to be part of that Pappy and Harriet’s family. Those walls have magic in them, and I feel it every time I host. I am constantly awed by new artists who travel hundreds of miles to play on that stage, and the crowd is so open and receiving… it’s a lot of work to run a show with over 20 artists, but the rewards are huge. “
CVW: What has been the most exciting moment of your performing career so far?
Morgan: “Most recently, signing Grace Slick’s part in “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now,” alongside the amazing and gracious Mickey Thomas for the YMCA’s celebrity golf tournament at Big Rock Golf and Pub. I never dreamed as a young, single and pregnant 18 year old that my path would bring me to a place where I would be singing live on a stage with that same iconic voice I would sing along to on my radio.”
CVW: Who do you most respect in the music business?
Morgan: “The musicians and songwriters who keep ever at it in spite of unfair streaming pay rates, lackluster crowds and grueling hope sucking experiences daily, people telling them they can’t and shouldn’t, and continue to pour themselves into their craft anyway, doing it all for the sake of the song.”
CVW: Who would you most like to open for?
Morgan: “Willie Nelson and Family.”
CVW: Who are you listening to right now?
Morgan: “Brandi Carlile is breathing some serious inspiration into me right now. “
CVW: Who would be your top 3 headliners for Stagecoach?
Morgan: “Kris Kristofferson, Neil Young, Loretta Lynn.”
Morgan: “Kings of Leon, Eagles of Death Metal/Queens of the Stone Age, Foo Fighters.”
CVW: Desert Trip?
Morgan: “Robert Plant, Chrissie Hynde & The Pretenders, Annie Lennox & The Eurythmics
You can catch this desert songbird performing at the following shows:
April 24 Big Rock Pub 7-10 pm
May 12 Coachella Valley Brewing Co – Here’s to Mom, Shelter from the Storm Benefit Concert Stage 1, 4 pm
May 20 Pappy and Harriet’s 7 pm
June 2 CV Music Awards – Paul Rogers Tribute
June 22 Big Rock Pub 8:30 – 11:30
July 25 Idyllwild Summer Concert Series 6-9 pm
August 18 Idyllwild Strong Benefit 4:35-5:20 Ferro Stage