An injury ended up leading Morgan Wallen to a career in music.
Wallen grew up with dueling passions: music and baseball.
Baseball often came first, and as Wallen prepared for college, it seemed the sport would remain an integral part of his life. Since he expected to play baseball in college, he decided to take a few months off from it toward the end of high school.
During Wallen’s first game back, he seriously injured his elbow and required surgery. Colleges who previously were interested in recruiting Wallen stopped calling.
Wallen decided to walk away from seriously playing baseball after the injury. And that turn of events shifted his focus to music.
Wallen will open for Florida Georgia Line at Hersheypark Stadium on Saturday. The 24-year-old Tennessee native appeared on season 6 of “The Voice,” which aired in 2014.
After his injury, Wallen needed to re-evaluate his future plans.
“I took a few months off after my senior year was over, and I prayed and tried to figure out what was my plan and my purpose,” Wallen says. “That’s how I started writing songs and playing guitar just to get my feelings out.”
He first played the songs for his mom, then his friends. They told him he had a gift, so he auditioned for “The Voice.” Wallen competed as part of celebrity judge Usher’s team but was eliminated in the playoff round.
Before his appearance on the show, Wallen had performed only at his church.
“I guess it was just me growing up, just in front of a lot more people than most people have to do it in front of. … There are a lot of things that it helped me with,” Wallen says of being on “The Voice.” “I consider it a huge blessing and a great stepping stone in my life.”
Wallen began singing for his church at 3 and started playing instruments at 5. Wallen’s father is a Southern Baptist preacher, so church was a large part of his life growing up.
His father has a hearty appreciation for rock ’n’ roll, too, introducing Wallen to such artists as Led Zeppelin, Rush, Bad Company and AC/DC. His mom, on the other hand, prefers country and Christian music.
Both parents’ tastes influence the music Wallen makes today.
“I really love the way the old school rock ’n’ roll bands make records, so we make our records the same way,” Wallen says. “We just go in there with a full band and cut it and keep playing the song and see if we can get what we want out of it.”
He’s still a country guy, though.
“The way that country music, the honesty in it and just the way that everything goes in country music, that’s the way that I was brought up,” Wallen says.
Wallen moved to Nashville in 2015 and cultivated his songwriting with people like Craig Wiseman (“Live Like You Were Dying”) and Chris Tompkins (“Drunk on a Plane.”)
His debut EP “The Way I Talk” was released earlier this summer. It was produced by Joey Moi, who’s worked with Florida Georgia Line and Chris Lane. Wallen will perform with both in Hershey.
Wallen’s already played a handful of shows with Florida Georgia Line and has written with the duo on the road. He’s happy to continue the fun in Hershey.
“I kind of just really like to watch them as they perform and try to take some pages out of their book,” Wallen says. “My music and their music, it goes well together, so their fans seem to be enjoying what I do out there. That’s the most important part to me.”