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GRAMMY PREVIEW:
MORGAN WALLEN

Lucky "7"

By Holly Gleason

Morgan Wallen, the East Tennessee kid with the mullet, got the whole world singing “7 Summers.” But beyond the breezy tsunami of this “wondering about the girl remembering” track, Wallen has taken over the streaming charts with his “how we live” songs: “More Than My Hometown,” “Chasin’ You,” “Whiskey Glasses” and even Jason Isbell’s “Cover Me Up.” It’s simple stuff, but it’s given dimension by a kid with a voice that has just enough twang to make his stories feel real and the disappointments seem life-altering. With a glimmer of ’90s sheen, he evokes Keith Whitley, Alan Jackson, brand-new Country Music Hall of Famer Marty Stuart and fellow Gibbs High alum Kenny Chesney. (And, as he confirms below, his tastes extend well beyond country.) With his good-natured vibe and love of country living, Wallen could be the next wave of the genre already rolling in.


What do the Grammys mean to you? Do you have a favorite Grammy memory?
The Grammys mean a lot to me, because it’s all voted on by other badass artists, songwriters, musicians and other people who are involved in making different kinds of music happen. These voters are even more than all my good buddies in Nashville, so it means a lot they would potentially choose me when they could choose any of these great artists. To me, that’s the highest level of respect—when the people making the music pick you.

Because it’s all kinds of music, does winning a Grammy hold any more significance for you?
Absolutely. I feel the genres can sometimes get caught up within themselves, country music included. I love all types of music, and being a voting member myself, I’m excited to support other kinds of music that I love, even outside of country music. That’s part of the fun of it: I get to vote on other kinds of music, too.

Is there a song/performance you’d really like to see nominated? Tell me what it is about that particular track.
Miranda Lambert
’s “Bluebird” is one of my favorite country songs this year. Also, what’s happening with Pop Smoke is truly inspiring. God forbid something ever happens to me or one of my close artist friends, but the response his project has received this year has blown me away. In a bittersweet way, he gave fans a parting gift—and I love the way they’re keeping a great musician’s legacy alive.

Grammys are the best of the best from around the world. What part of East Tennessee do you hope will rub off on the Grammy voters for this second ballot? Is there some piece of your home region that’s gonna catch their ears?
East Tennessee has a rich music history. I love that people associate me as the East Tennessee kid right now. I have so many musician friends back home who will feel a massive sense of local pride if I ever win anything or perform on an awards show. They feel a part of it, and I felt the same way before I made it here. Maybe we’re just born underdogs. 865 for Life!

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