For rising country star Morgan Mills, her passion for music runs as deep as her Southern roots, growing up in the farmland of Durham, North Carolina. Raised by farmers on both sides of her family, Morgan always knew her future would take her far beyond the tobacco fields; she just didn't know how far that would be.
For years, young Morgan proudly stood on the family fireplace, belting her heart out for anyone and everyone who would listen. So it came as no surprise to her mother when 9-year-old Morgan proclaimed, “I want to be on stage!”
When her mother saw the spark and determination in her daughter's eyes, she packed their belongings and took Morgan and her younger brother to New York. “I knew I wanted to do music and be a performer,” Morgan beams.
Upon their arrival in The Big Apple, Morgan landed her first Broadway role as the comedic character of Miss Hannigan in the all-kids production of Annie. Her performance not only made her family proud, but also the key composer of the classic musical, Charles Strouse. “I will never forget it. He came up to me and said, 'You're a natural on stage, and that is where you need to be the rest of your life,'” Morgan says, smiling. “It never felt real or as if I could really make something of being a performer until that moment. It gave me the confidence I needed.”
After four years of living the city life, Morgan knew the limitations that New York was putting on her ambitions. “In New York, you can model, you can do commercials and you can do Broadway or dance,” she says. “That was all the entertainment you could do at that time in New York. I knew I couldn't stay there forever.”
The next logical step was to once again relocate, this time clear across the country to the foothills of Hollywood where her love of music could be incorporated into her future dreams. Around 13-years-old, Morgan utilized her time between school work and sleep to further her love for being in the spotlight, but more importantly, honing in on what it takes to be a performer. “I always loved Garth Brooks and Shania Twain,” Morgan explains “When you think of those legends, what do they have in common? They are all over the stage. They brought the show. When I saw them, I saw they were performing and giving their all to the audience through music and doing what I did in Music Theater, but on a bigger scale. I knew I wanted that, too.”
Throughout her high school years, Morgan skipped trips to the mall with her girlfriends, choosing to spend those crucial hours rehearsing with her band and working toward finding gigs and performing outside of the school productions she was involved in. She soon found herself taking the stage at The House of Blues regularly, even though she was limited with how far she could go within the perimeters of the club. “It was crazy that I was playing places that I legally couldn't get into at the time. The owners always told me, 'Don't step foot off that stage, kid!'” laughs Morgan.
The buzz only continued to build around Morgan Mills, inspiring her to create her first EP to sell at shows. The music played a key part in allowing Morgan the opportunities tossing in Japan, playing for the U.S. troops. Even though she was content with being a product of the L.A. scene, Morgan's Southern roots always bled through in everything she did. “When I would open my mouth to sing or talk, I was country,” she says. “People would tell me to not sound so country, but that's all I knew. I'm from the South. I loved country music. So it got me thinking, I need to be in Nashville.”
Rather than asking her Mom to once again uproot their lives, Morgan was old enough to start making her own trips back and forth to Nashville where she slowly began working on her songwriting craft and networking with the folks within the music industry. By the time Morgan turned 21, Nashville was officially her permanent home. Before long, she crossed paths with hit songwriter Bobby Pinson who helped Morgan produce her first single, “Dance in the Rain,” marketed specifically for the country music audience.
The connection with Bobby also opened up the doors for Morgan's outdoor ventures when he asked for her hand in helping organize his World Turkey Hunting Championship competition in Kansas in 2013. While Morgan had always had a love for the outdoors, she would always randomly go hunting with family and male friends. So when the Girls With Guns Clothing team (comprised of Jen O'Hara and Norissa Harman) fell short with their third teammate, Morgan fit in perfectly joined the team for the three-day hunt, and in turn, created a bond that would change her life. “They were fellow California rednecks, so we got along just fine!” jokes Morgan.
As her desire to hunt blossomed, Morgan began guest host multiple hunting shows and went on to join Jen and Norissa on many episodes of ‘Universal Huntress’ show on The Sportsman Channel. It seemed only fitting that Morgan would be asked to write and sing the shows theme song, resulting in the Colt Ford duet “Let's Ride.” The song received airplay for over six months through Sirius XM's The Highway and officially put her name on the country music map.
“That song and the lyrics of the song mean so much to me,” Morgan says. “The concept of the show and my take on hunting in general is how the journey is the hunt. It's not about what is killed. It's about the whole experience – the camaraderie of the people you are hunting with, being out in nature, talking to God, seeing animals in their natural state, harvesting an animal and putting meat on the table. The hunt is the destination. It's such a huge life statement, and it can relate to so many things in your everyday life.”
In the short time Morgan has been chipping away at her career in country music and the hunting industry, she has shared the stage with the likes of Toby Keith, Jake Owen, Tyler Farr and Colt Ford, among others. Her video for “Dance in the Rain” continues to gain traction as it remains in rotation on CMT, GAC, ZUUS and The Nashville Network/The Heartland Network. She has become a certified NRA pistol and rifle instructor, where she has taught many Concealed Carry Classes in Tennessee. She is often found as the face of NRA Country and recently became the host of their new Apple TV show ‘On Location with Morgan Mills” set to air in September 2016 on the NRA TV/ Apple TV channel.
So when it comes to her future placement in country music or in the outdoor world, Morgan's dreams and ambitions will only take her above and beyond where she's been. “Like the chorus in 'Let's Ride' says … It ain't about where you end in life / It's all about how you live the ride,” she says with a grin. “And I'm sure enjoying living this particular ride!”