Morgan Wade has no interest in becoming the next anyone but her unapologetic self. And her raspy, bruised-like voice, the vulnerable, old soul songwriting, and the tattoos will all tell you that. She is out to define an authentic striking figure of herself in the industry with her music and hopes that she helps someone along the way.
Wade just released her full-length debut solo album Reckless early this year with her lead single “Wilder Days.” And everyone is raving about it, and many are definitely excited to hear more from her. But while we wait, let’s get to know the emerging artist of country music.
Who is Morgan Wade?
Morgan Wade was born on December 10, 1994, in the small Appalachian of Floyd, Virginia. Her parents married young – her mom (Robin Fonville) was only 17 when she was born – and sadly, they divorced when she was just 5. She has four other siblings, three sisters, and one brother, and a large part of her life growing up was spent with her grandparents. Every Sunday and Wednesday, they would take her along with them to church. That was why it was not surprising that her grandparents influenced her music.
As she later on realized, she was an old soul trapped in a young body. She would write songs about heartbreak and other adult stuff when she was just seven, and she always connected with older people. In an interview, she also said that her best friends, until this day, are in their 60s and 70s as she always felt that she had more to learn from someone who had way more experience than her. But her songs never made it out of paper or her bedroom as she was often told by people around her that she couldn’t sing, that her voice was weird, and that she should just be quiet.
And she did so until she suffered a breakup in 2013 while attending Roanoke’s Jefferson College of Health Sciences as a freshman. That heartbreak forged her drive to find her voice and free herself from everyone else’s opinion of her. She turned her experience into a song, thinking that she could either tick him off with it or get him back.
She ended up winning him back.
Early Career: Struggle with the Bottle and Mental Health
Morgan Wade had just written a song at that time about a boyfriend and a bad break-up. And then she got on Craigslist, assembled a band named Morgan Wade and the Stepbrothers, and for the first time in her life publicly performed. The next thing that happened – she got her boyfriend back, the band stuck, and she started performing locally.
But with that came the drinking. She drank to help take the edge off before performances, accepted booze as payment when local venues couldn’t afford to pay them as talents, and drank even more after shows whenever someone would buy her and the band a few shots. And it didn’t take long before her underage social drinking turned into a full-on booze cruise.
But one trip to New York, as she and her band ventured out of Floyd, that she reached her final bender. The whole trip, she kept on cracking beers and drinking, and before she knew it, she drank more in one night than she had ever done before. The next morning, she felt something different that she couldn’t shake what had happened. Soon after that, dark thoughts claimed her mind for days, and she felt reclusive.
After their string of shows ended up with a bare-bones attendance, they headed home, driving for nine hours overnight. Even after Wade got home, she still didn’t feel better. That was the time that she finally got a hold of her drinking problem and the root of it. She realized that anxiety and depression played a big part in it, and while she craved alcohol to feel immediate relief, it only betrayed her and made her feel worse.
And so, she decided to quit and talk about it. As soon as she did, everything got better.
The Emerging Artist: Sobriety and Rising Career
When Wade decided to make the effort to get sober and talk about it openly, a lot of people connected with her, but even though she received a lot of warm responses and encouragements, she was still afraid of the changes that her journey would bring. She confessed that she was afraid that being sober would change her writing. And it did, but in a good way – she finally stopped writing songs about getting drunk.
Then she finally got her lucky break.
During one of their shows at FloydFest in 2018, one guy had been watching her from the side stage and asked her if she had any CDs. Not knowing who he was, she suggested that he get one from the merch table. Two days later, she received an email from Sadler Vaden explaining that he was Jason Isbell’s guitarist in the 400 Unit and he wanted to work with her. As it turned out, the guy who approached her that night was actually Jason Isbell’s guitar tech!
Their collaboration produced “The Night” in 2019, followed by “Don’t Cry” a year later. And just this March 2021, Morgan Wade finally released her full-length solo debut album Reckless which opened with her lead-off single “Wilder Days.” According to Wade, she put it all on the line with her album – it made her feel better to be exposed. Giving away her feelings through her songs and letting other people feel less alone as they connect with them made her feel that she was not alone.
And that honesty and authenticity not only earned Morgan Wade the strength to slowly overcome her struggles but also fans who would support her through her journey.