‘The Voice': Morgan Myles Has Overcome Every Obstacle Imaginable to Get Here
When Morgan Myles sang "Tennessee Whiskey" on The Voice on Nov. 28, it was something of a full circle moment for the talented finalist from Team Camilla Cabello.
Seven years ago, Myles found herself in tears watching a performance of the very same song on television. That moment was the memorable Chris Stapleton and Justin Timberlake CMA Awards performance that launched Stapleton's artist career.
“I was in tears that night," she told Taste of Country. "I didn’t even go out. I was like, ‘This is what I’m talking about.' Everybody is digging this soul country sound. It’s just that country music has come into that sound, and that’s where I’ve lived for so long.”
"And their mom was the one person to say, 'Please, never give up your dream. I’m 45 and I never wrote that book I wanted to write.'"
A short time later, Taste of Country named Myles an Artist to Watch, and the rest is history. Except, well, no — that was just the beginning (or a continuance) of a rollercoaster life and career for the Pennsylvania native.
That was about the time Myles held an album preview event in Nashville, where she performed several songs from a beautiful album that was never released on a record label that she'd eventually split from quietly. After a few songs, she choked up speaking of her cousin, a close friend who'd courageously battled brain cancer. Like her grandfather, her cousin Mac would also die of the disease.
"It broke my heart," she'd later tell the Boot.
The trouble on the business side was — by that point —nothing new for Myles. British outlet Lyric Magazine documented her story of "Silence," a song inspired by a manager who refused to allow her an ounce of creative control on an upcoming project.
"'Silence' was definitely my passive-aggressive way of trying to be heard in a very toxic situation," she recalled. "I love when women come up to me after shows and tell me they needed to hear that song — most of their stories are abusive relationships, unfortunately. It’s definitely more common than people realize. My manager swore the silent treatment didn’t work on him, but silence is what ultimately got him out of my life – and landed ‘Silence’ on the record!"
There's an acoustic performance video of "Silence," but the studio version is where her frustration is palpable. It's pretty heartbreaking.
Where Myles' story mirrors so many over-30-somethings in Nashville is that what has held her back is the learning curve any first generation, professional singer-songwriter has to navigate. She didn't know what she didn't know, even after an education that included Berkley and Belmont University and frequent childhood trips to New York City to pursue the dream. Myles has experienced more than these two pains, but she's also found a few allies, even if they came with more sorrow.
In 2012, the mother of two children that Myles nannied died after battling ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease). She would go on to become a guardian to them and even named her first EP Miss Morgan Myles, in part because that's what they called her (it also fit her Southern, R&B-inspired style).
"What that family has gone through, it puts so much of my life in perspective," she explains. "And their mom was the one person to say 'Please, never give up your dream. I’m 45 and I never wrote that book I wanted to write.' It’s been such a journey, and it allows me to do what I wanted to do."
Myles called her music "country soul" then, but we suspect that now she'll expand the definition of her music to allow pop, blues and soul fans to embrace her. It's a smart move, because country music still doesn't seem to be a place where a talented singer can thrive without prejudice. Watching her singing "Tennessee Whiskey" brought us a smile, and gives us the sense she was singing with no fear, as if she's playing the game with house money.
Of course she is. After what it took to get here, Morgan Myles may have already won.