Trevor Morgan is one of those dichotomies only the music
business can bring, a "veteran newcomer" who has been pursuing
his dream for a decade, only to find other plans waiting for him along
"I moved to Nashville in 1995 because I wanted to
pursue my artistry. I was writing songs, I was leading worship, I was
doing a lot of things, and the thought was to go to Nashville because
I wanted to be a Christian music recording artist," Trevor says.
"The first door that opened was in publishing, and I didn't realize
it at the time, but the perception was that if you sign a publishing
deal and you don't have a recording deal, well, then, you're a writer."
While gathering his foothold in the Nashville music scene,
Morgan was introduced to Will Owsley, an established guitarist and songwriter
who had spent time in various bands with pop superstars Ben Folds, Judson
Spence, Shania Twain, and Amy Grant. At this point, though, Owsley was
looking to forge his own sound, and in Morgan found a songwriting partner,
as well as bass player for his live band.
Morgan found that operating in the dual worlds of mainstream
pop and Christian music wasn't as hard as he might have imagined. "The
whole time, I'm trying to get a deal within Christian music, but I get
hooked up with this guy I didn't know too much about, and all of a sudden,
we're writing pop songs," Trevor says. "It didn't feel unnatural
to me to be writing Christian music and still leading worship on retreats,
and to also be playing bass and writing these songs that'd be on a mainstream
release, playing at things like South by Southwest and in New York.
"I was doing both, and it didn't seem weird to me,
but if you would've told somebody in a club that I was leading worship
on a youth retreat the next weekend, they would probably have some sort
of culture shock," Trevor laughs. "On the other side, if you
were to tell a youth minister that I was going to Austin to play in
a bar the following weekend, he'd probably do the same thing."
Morgan took away from that musical partnership a fresh
change in how he approached his own songwriting. "So much of the
time I was just writing for myself, and expecting everybody else to
like it just because I did," Trevor says. "I learned how to
write with more of a pop mentality, writing music not only for me, but
also for the lady driving by in the minivan or the kid in gym right
now who wants to dig some music when he gets home from school. In a
lot of ways, it felt natural and easier because I had found my voice."
Morgan also found encouragement in another sideman gig,
this time with Christian music newcomer Ginny Owens, who needed a bass
player for the trio she was putting together to tour behind her debut
release Without Condition.
Through that relationship, Morgan received more than he
could have bargained for: a chance to play his own material in front
of growing audiences and a limitless font of encouragement from Owens
"I could tell he was immensely talented the moment
he began playing in rehearsal what I didn't know at the time was
the incredible depth of both his talent and his heart," Owens says.
"Beyond the singing and songwriting abilities, I often witness
Trevor's gifts as a true man of God and a born leader, whether he is
serving people in his church family, helping take care of others on
the road or standing in front of an audience sharing his heart, his
God-given ability to be strong and steadfast in his faith is always
evident." "Through building that relationship with Ginny,"
Trevor says, "I felt more encouraged than ever that I was meant
to be doing my thing, that God had called me not only to play and to
write, but also to share with other people what He put on my heart."
So Morgan continued to jump through the hoops of the music
business game, taking every meeting he could arrange and playing in
front of every decision maker who would listen. "I never had anybody
say 'no,' but nobody dropped the paper on the table and said,
'Let's do it.' I think people were interested and they esponded
to it, but the timing was never right. They were looking for a band,
they were looking for a girl group, whatever," Morgan says.
Through the ups and downs of chasing that dream, one person
steadfastly refused to give up on Morgan and his music, his wife Murray.
"She was the amazing thing about it all, the one person who should
have been most frustrated by it all but kept me going all the time.
There were so many times when I would look at her and say, 'Why
do you keep supporting me in this, nothing really positive has
come of this?' But she feels, as I do, that this is what God's
called us to do as a couple," Trevor says.
There were so many nights where I just wanted to give
it up. I wasn't feeling rejection, but I also wasn't feeling acceptance.
I was living in that gray area between the two where people were telling
me I was good, but they also weren't responding by accepting me. I thought
to myself sometimes, "Somebody tell me I stink or somebody tell
me I'm great."
That positive day came when producer Scott Parker, who
was scouting for artists for the new BHT Entertainment label, was given
a CD of Trevor's music by keyboardist/producer Jeff Roach. "I immediately
fell in love with his voice, vision, honesty, and fresh songwriting,"
Parker says. After a trip to see Morgan play with Owens, Parker told
his boss, veteran artist manager and label head Michael Blanton, about
the young Alabaman.
After a couple of meetings, BHT offered Morgan the chance
to be the first artist on the new label. With Parker and Roach at the
helm as producers, Morgan set out to craft his debut, an album touching
on all facets of the dualities of relationships, both on the physical
and spiritual planes.
"I look at my life and how I live on a daily basis,
and I really do live in both worlds. We will continue to live in those
two worlds until we're no longer here and we're finally made perfect,"
Trevor says. "I think there's always going to be that struggle,
and what I would never want to do is only write about the pain without
also writing about the healing."
I also don't want to write only about joy without touching
on the fact that there's going to be some discomfort. Not that we're
going to walk around moaning and beating ourselves up like Job, but
there's a balance to find.
"It'd be different if we still lived in Eden and
everything was perfect. There wouldn't be a need to wrestle with the
evil. But the truth of the matter is that we don't, and we're all constantly
struggling choosing between the things we do and the things we don't
want to do."
It's not even a real word, "wonderlight." It's
a hybrid, a coinage, a merging of two separate ideas into one, new reality.
For Trevor Morgan, Wonderlight represents a litany of
new, dual realities. It's the culmination of a past full of hard work
and good times, struggle and joy, pain and redemption and if he's fortunate,
it represents a future full of more of the same.
Morgan's gritty voice meshes with a flurry of guitars,
both acoustic and electric, to form the foundation of Wonderlight's
13 tracks, and the combination does wonders in conveying both the triumph
and tribulation of living in this modern age. "The thing I want
somebody to hear most is just that there's hope, but that doesn't necessarily
mean that everything's easy," Trevor notes. "I want to make
music that not only I can relate to, but also the average listener can
relate to as well."
"I think that in looking at my path, I've had a lot
of joy, a lot of blessings, but also a lot of tears. And I hope to convey
that through each of these songs, there's a lot of wrestling through
these songs, but also a thread of redemption."
Struggle and hope. Joy and pain. Wrestling and redemption.
The duality of living today, merged into one new idea. Like wonder and