Editor’s note: Kicks presents 20Q, a feature that introduces readers to people involved in the area’s arts and entertainment community. Compiled by kicks Editor Greg Little, each piece will include a short bio, photo and answers to questions that provide insight into not only that person’s artistic interests but also his or her unique personality.
She’s only 25, but she has already become a well-known name in music circles.
A Mauston native and a 2012 Westfield Area High School graduate, Morgan has fast become one of the hottest commodities in regional country music. A regular at several watering holes in Rock and Walworth counties, she also has embarked on a hectic performance schedule that regularly takes her to all points throughout the Badger State as both a solo act and as a member of her band, Bree Morgan Reloaded.
Morgan’s latest single, “Whiskey Might Help,” comes on the heels of other original tunes such as “Little Black Dress,” “Ready for Goodbye” and “Don’t Need Your Memory.” Recently, she also was nominated in three categories for Madison Magazine’s annual Best of Madison awards. Results had not yet been released at press time.
When she’s not on stage, Morgan keeps close to her big family. Members include mother Amie, father Scott, stepmother Tara, stepfather Gerald and sisters Olivia, Danielle, Elizabeth, Makayla and Kelly. She also finds time for her five “fur babies”—Nugget, Jenkins, Emit, Mustache and Buddy.
To learn more about Morgan or to find out where you can see her perform, visit BreeMorgan Music.com, Facebook.com/BreeMorgan Music1994, Twitter.com/BreeMorganM, Instagram.com/bree_morgan_music, or search for her on YouTube.
1. When did you decide you wanted to make a living as a musician? About two years ago, I said I wanted to be doing this full time. A year later, I decided to take the chance. I’ve been performing for a living now for a year and a half.
2. You write songs, but you didn’t write one of your most recent singles, “Little Black Dress.” Is it hard to take ownership of a song that doesn’t come from you directly? Having a songwriter while also being a songwriter was an interesting choice for me. I do write, but if someone else writes a song and it speaks to you, performing and making it your own is pretty easy. It feels right. Also, I’m able to support another woman in the business. Melissa Childers is a very talented songwriter, and her songs deserve to reach as many people as possible.
3. According to your bio, you cut your teeth musically on your mom’s hip-hop CDs from the ‘90s. How do you transition from that to country music? I can basic white-girl rap pretty well now because of it. While my mom had the ‘90s hip-hop blaring—and I can still rap every word to “Baby Got Back”—we would just as quick get in the car and put on Reba McEntire or Martina McBride. It’s all about balance.
4. People would be surprised to know that I: Once burned my eyeball with a curling iron. And, no, I wasn’t a child. I was 18.
5. In high school, you performed in a series of musical productions. Was there ever a time you considered going the acting route rather than singing? I still remember a few weeks before graduation proclaiming to my choir class that, “One day you’d see me on the big screen!” Who’s to say that isn’t still a dream?! I would love to get back into acting. I love to act, sing and dance. I do it every show already, but nobody writes my lines between songs for me ... although someone should sometimes.
6. When you go to the grocery store, what item goes into your cart whether you need it or not? I’ve really been into flavored water lately. No calories. Yummy taste!
7. Along with performing solo shows, you’ve also formed a full band with Bree Morgan Reloaded. About how many gigs do you play a week, and where do you find the time? This past summer, I averaged about five shows a week, sometimes six. I find the time because this isn’t a hobby for me. I don’t just love music, I breathe it ... every day.
8. Not only do you perform a lot of shows, you perform all over the state. What do you drive, and how many miles are on it? OMG, I have a 2003 Prius, and I get SO MUCH CRAP for it. But let me ask you, does YOUR CAR get 45 miles to the gallon? I bet not! It has 177,000 on it now. I was super lucky to find it lightly used at only 111,000 about two years ago.
9. Before your singing career started to take off, you worked for WRJC radio in Mauston, your hometown. What did you do at the station, and did you learn anything about doing interviews while there? Before I worked for the station, I actually produced a weekly local radio show called “Local Frequencies” with now Memphis blues guitarist Kyle Roberts. Once a week, we invited in an original artist, interviewed them, and they would perform an original song live. It was one of the most fun, challenging and rewarding projects yet, aside from my new band, BMR. When I started working for the station, I was actually in sales. I learned that I’m great at selling my music but not so great at selling radio ads. But I had a great boss that knew how to motivate me and keep me going. He also let me come to work about 15 minutes late every day because there was NO WAY I was getting to the station by 8 a.m. (That’s also why I never did the morning show.) Did you know you have to be there at like 5 a.m.? Not happening.
10. Is there a performer you try to pattern your performing style after, or one who inspires you? My biggest idol is Miranda Lambert. She’s had her trials and tribulations, but she honestly doesn’t give a sh*t about what people think about her, and neither do I. I don’t mean that in a bad way, but more of in a “people are always going to judge you, and people aren’t always going to like you” kind of way. So make yourself happy before you try to please everyone else. But overall, Miranda is my girl. She’s super sassy, owns her stage presence, owns her music performances and believes in herself.
11. What are you finding out to be the hardest part of being a full-time musician on the local level? I had to learn to really spread out shows. People want to come out and support you, but not every day. That’s why I travel far away, and I hope to travel even farther in the near future. I don’t want anyone to get bored or feel like they’re obligated to come out. I like them to come out because they want to have a good time.
12. Do you collect anything? Do the pistachio shells on my car floor count?
13. I’ve heard that you play the clarinet. How does that stack up against guitar as being fun to play? It doesn’t. I wish I would have learned the saxophone because then I could have at least played in jazz bands. The guitar is way more fun. I can also sing and play guitar at the same time. Can’t do that with a clarinet.
14. How many instruments do you play? Are there any you would like to learn? Guitar is my main instrument now. I would have to do a crash course on the ukulele, but that’s where I started. I play a very tiny bit of fiddle, and I’m currently learning to play the mandolin on stage. I understand the concept of piano, and I can play just enough to sing along.
15. Who taught you how to play guitar, or how did you learn? When I started playing ukulele, I learned how to strum and sing at the same time. I’m self-taught on that and guitar. I just started looking up chords to songs I loved, and it all just came to me.
16. Do you have any pre-gig rituals? In the last few months, I’ve started trying to get to a show at least an hour early and get set up with a half-hour to spare so I don’t feel rushed. Not being rushed is my new pre-gig thing.
17. What are you most afraid of? SPIDERS.
18. You have two hours of free time. What do you do? What time of year is it? In summer, it’s pool floating time. In fall, I sit outside with my puppies drinking something warm. In winter, it’s usually a book by the fireplace. In spring ... I don’t have free time in the spring. I have to mop the floors 18 times a day because it won’t stop raining and I have three dogs.
19. If you came with a warning label, what would yours say? Caution: Has No Filter.
20. If it wasn’t for a career in music, what other profession could you see yourself in, and why? Hard to tell. I’ve had a lot of jobs in my now 25 years of life. I have my nail technician license. I have my property and casualty insurance license. I worked in radio and newspapers for two years in advertising, writing and production. I LOVE bartending, except I hated the hours. It’s funny how, being a musician, I now have the hours I used to hate.