Craig Morgan – Country Star, Army Veteran, WoodworkerComments (0)
Two years ago, life was a little different for country music star Craig Morgan and his family. They weren’t starring in a “docu-series” on television, they hadn’t opened their gallery yet, and most importantly, their 19-year-old son Jerry Greer was still alive. In July of 2016, they got the devastating news that Jerry had been in a boating accident and, despite wearing a life vest, did not surface after hitting a wave. (The family goes by Craig’s surname, Greer; Morgan is his middle name.)
Photo below: Craig in center, clockwise: son Jerry, son Kyle and his wife Chelsea, wife Karen with grandson Cruze, daughter Alexandra and her husband Ryan, and son Wyatt. Taken at their home in April 2016, three short months before tragically losing Jerry.
Leaning on each other and their strong Catholic faith, Craig and his wife Karen, along with daughter Alexandra (“Aly”) and sons Kyle and Wyatt, banded together to make something positive out of the tragedy. “Even though this bad thing happened, we’re going to use it for good,” Aly said.
Following Jerry’s accident, Craig found himself in his workshop more and more, while his music took a back seat. “After Jerry passed, we started doing things to help us as far as coping mechanisms go. For me, I would go to my shop,” he said. “I was just cutting on wood and staying busy. I went out there and I cried. And I started making a bowl. And then I made a spoon. Before you know it, I had a bunch of them. It was very therapeutic for me."
Some of Craig’s handmade spoons on display in the gallery.
Craig building a couple of custom Morgan Farms end tables.
made a prophetic move by posting a few pictures of her dad’s work on Facebook
to sell, and soon a business was born. “We had this idea and I knew that it was
important in light of this tragedy that my family focus on something,” Craig
said in an interview with Maria Bartiromo on FOXBusiness in March. “Aside from
our faith, and we are a very spiritual family and very tight-knit family, but I
knew we needed to focus on something else collectively and so I created the
brand Morgan Farms.”
The business expanded from Facebook sales to a brick and mortar site last fall in downtown Dickson, Tennessee, about 45 minutes west of Nashville. Not only is the location unique – the rustic 1920s, 6,550-square-foot building once housed a furniture company and an undertaker’s office – but their philosophy sets them apart from a traditional gift shop. Craig, members of his family, and some country superstar friends make every item sold in their store, with a few exceptions, focusing on reclaimed, repurposed and recycled materials.
“I call it the Gallery because this is more art than craft,” he said. “No one piece is like the other. They are all hand-carved, hand-sanded and hand-rubbed. With every piece of wood, my wife hand-writes a note that says where the wood came from, or what it was.” Craig also woodburns his signature into every piece he makes.
Photo: Kyle, Chelsea, Aly, Craig and Wyatt in the Gallery at Morgan Farms.
Photo: Craig, Karen, Aly, Wyatt, Chelsea and Kyle with a commissioned painting of Jerry by Dickson artist Kimberly Daniel during the Gallery’s soft opening in September 2017.
Craig’s wooden crosses are popular sellers in the gallery, as are his upcycled candlesticks made from chair rails. When they remodeled the building, they tried to recycle as much material as they could to use for future projects. Craig’s woodwork—charcuterie serving trays, bread boards and spoons—is prominently featured. “Sometimes I’ll come up with one that I think looks horrible and has a funky curve to it, and I’ll finish it and think ‘this is sort of cool,’” he said. Antlers are frequently incorporated into designs, like his elk antler lantern and his dad Jack’s deer antler candlesticks. Karen’s handmade quilts are featured in the store, and Aly makes organic sugar scrubs, lip balms and other beauty products with the wax from the beehives on the family farm. Kyle, who incidentally has a really great beard, makes wood beard combs and beard oil. Morgan Farms also produces its own organic honey and wine.
Craig recycles layers of wood into these rustic crosses.
Floor candlesticks by Craig, made out of the old banisters from the gallery building.
Lantern made with a shed elk antler
Craig found while hunting in Wyoming and a board from a 120-year-old house in
Craig made this from an old
upcycled fence from Massachusetts.
Craig’s brother Joey made these signs from recycled wood.
These candlesticks are made from an
old chair rail hidden in the wall for more than 90 years that was found while
remodeling The Loft.
Kyle’s wife Chelsea “does some of the most amazing paintings,” Aly said. She creates art on bricks, wood and canvas. Even Aly’s 2-year-old son Cruze contributes to the business with his “paintings.” “I think they’re all masterpieces,” his proud mom laughed. Even better, the proceeds of those sales and other items made by the youngest relatives, go back into the community to Dickson’s local children’s charities.
Aly handles the social media and PR for the store, helps out with her dad’s charities and also works full-time as a drug rep. Wyatt, who is a student at Tennessee State, has the business mind, she said. “He’ll come in and rearrange things in the store. ‛This makes more sense over here. That needs to go there.’”
Beard oil and wooden beard combs made by Craig’s son Kyle.
Craig made this log lamp while on the road, and it is featured in the first season of “Morgan Family Strong.”
Cutting boards, bread boards, cheese trays and spoons handmade by Craig.
Deer antler candlesticks made by Craig’s dad Jack.
ON THE ROAD
Craig doesn’t let a busy country music touring schedule, including 15 USO tours playing for U.S. troops all over the world, keep him from woodworking. He has a pull-behind trailer that carries a portable workshop, allowing him the chance to unwind in the workshop whenever he can.
“I think it’s very spiritual for him, putting his hands on something, making something,” Aly said. “It’s his time with the Lord.”
In addition to his talks with God during his time in the workshop, he said, “I also felt like I had this attachment that I couldn’t get doing anything else – with Jerry.”
Aly said her dad is always on the lookout for something unique. “He picks up wood along the road wherever he goes.” On a recent USO tour, he was able to go to Diego Garcia, a secretive military base located on a small island in the Indian Ocean. “He even came home with some driftwood from there!” she laughed.
MORGAN FAMILY STRONG
In addition to running the family business, creating products, doing tours on the road, working their individual jobs or going to school, the Greers are now starring in their own series on UPtv called “Morgan Family Strong,” which premiered in March. Aly calls it a “docu-series” vs. a reality show. “Basically, we tell them our schedule of what we’re doing and they come and film us,” she said. “It’s very much who we really are as a family.”
HAPI – HAVING A POSITIVE IMPACT
For all of his travel and fame, Craig still considers himself “the guy next door.” Yet, there’s a whole lot more to him than that. Recording artist. Veteran. Christian. Father and husband. Business owner. Volunteer firefighter. Hunter. Woodworker. With all of those titles, he gives back every bit as much as he receives.
“We have a saying in our family and it’s the motto of our business – Be HAPI. H-A-P-I. Have a positive impact,” Craig explained. Whether it’s hiring veterans to work in the store, providing scholarships through the Jerry Greer Memorial Scholarship Fund, serving the needs of temporarily displaced children with the Dickson County Craig Morgan Foundation or supporting a host of veterans programs, Craig has led his family by example.
Photo: Elk hunting in Colorado.
In June, the US Army presented Craig with one of the highest civilian awards – the Outstanding Civilian Service Medal. Having served in the Army for more than 17 years – both as active duty and active reserves – he knows all too well the sacrifices and dedication made by military men and women and their families.
Photo: April 2018 USO Tour
Keep up with The Gallery at Morgan Farms on Facebook by liking their page. You’ll be able to get a sneak peek at what’s new in the store and see what Craig and the family have been working on.
Check the episode schedule and previews for “Morgan Family Strong” on the UPtv show page here.
We hope you’ll be inspired!
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