Country Newcomer Megan Moroney Scores Again With Football-Related Hit
Megan Moroney accepts award for breakthrough female video of the year for “Tennessee Orange” at the … [+] CMT Music Awards on Sunday, April 2, 2023 Austin, Texas. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
It was an extraordinary week for country music newcomer Megan Moroney. Amidst a sold-out show in Oklahoma and the announcement of her first performance at Stagecoach Country Music Festival in April, Moroney received Country Music Association (CMA) Award nominations for New Artist of The Year and Song of The Year for her hit “Tennessee Orange” written by Moroney and David Fanning, Paul Jenkins, and Ben Williams.
As a New Artist of The Year nominee, Moroney’s sharing the ballot with high profile newbies Jelly Roll, Hailey Whitters, Parker McCollum, and Zach Bryan. But her football-inspired hit “Tennessee Orange” has put her in the big league going helmet to helmet with some of the strongest players in the business including Luke Combs (“Fast Car” written and inspired by Tracy Chapman) and Lainey Wilson (“Heart Like A Truck” written by Wilson, Trannie Anderson, and Dallas Wilson).
While Moroney admits these major industry nods are an honor, she doesn’t believe her confidence depends upon that type of validation.
“I think, you know, my confidence doesn’t come from like recognition like that,” she told me. “It more comes internally. Me working really hard all the time is kind of what makes me confident and keeps me confident. But obviously getting nominated for awards like that is more—it’s just like an honor to be recognized by the national community.”
Moroney’s breakthrough Billboard Hot 100 hit earned her her first No. 1 at Country radio, RIAA Platinum certification, and a 2023 CMT Music Award win for Breakthrough Female Video of the Year. And it’s been scoring ever since.
“Tennessee Orange” highlights the love story between a Georgia Bulldog fan and her Tennessee-loving boyfriend. It is a relatable story at many levels. The most popular sport in the United States, football has been driving team spirit, tailgates, rivalries and conflict for decades. Moroney, a Georgia native and graduate of the University of Georgia has written what she knows and the cleverly touching lyrics of her true story paired with powerhouse vocals scored a touchdown. It didn’t hurt that her home team has been pegged as having one of the largest fan bases in college football and Tennessee fans would be happy to challenge that finding.
Watch the official music video for “Tennessee Orange.”
Business and Branding
The 25-year-old who began college as an accounting major, holds a bachelor’s degree in digital marketing and music business and says these days her focus is evenly split between business and creative because both are important.
“I love to be creative, but also every decision I make with the creative or whatever I’ve created, there’s always a business decision behind that and how to present it.”
Coincidentally, CMA Award show co-host and football legend Peyton Manning played college ball for the University of Tennessee. Co-host Luke Bryan is a Georgia native. Feels like good karma.
Did Moroney know those fun facts before penning the song?
“No, obviously not,” she laughs. But she did know her target audience. And then the listenership exploded.
“I think too just being in the South, it was like one of those things where everyone is going to understand this song. So I think more people, you know, related to it than I thought when I wrote it, just because if you care about football, then you understand. But I think also the song has resonated outside of people who care about football too.”
While the success of “Tennessee Orange” might push some business-driven artists to explore a sports-driven brand, Moroney’s got a handle on hers and it is shaped around honest multidimensional storytelling that hits all of the notes from sad and happy to funny, sarcastic, and insightful. It’s who she is “as a person in real life.”
Says Moroney, “I write from personal experiences and writing songs helps me process and get through things.” She’s finding that honesty such as that showcased in her confident anthem “I’m Not Pretty” has also impacted audiences in positive ways by calling out hurtful behavior and sharing the impact of social media bullying and scrutinizing slips.
Moroney’s got lots on her plate that she never imagined and she’s thrilled. That includes her upcoming 2024 performance at country music’s biggest festival Stagecoach (the country-focused festival created by Coachella organizers in 2007) held in Indio, CA and headlined by Eric Church, Miranda Lambert and Morgan Waller.
“Yeah, I mean, my name is right next to the Beach Boys so that’s crazy.”
With so many big strides made in the industry, is there one big duet she’d like to put on her wish list?
“I would love to obviously, one day have a duet with Taylor Swift. But I think just being able to meet her and thank her would be just as cool,” says Moroney who admits that Swift’s candor and business experiences have influenced her as much as the icon’s artistry and Era’s Tour endurance.
“She writes in such a unique perspective, and she’s always been very honest. And she tells stories, and she never overcomplicates things. So as a songwriter, she’s always inspired me. But even like, as a business woman, she’s the reason that I waited so long to sign a record deal. Because after she shared her experience, I realized how important it is to find the right team and get the right deal,” says Moroney, a Georgia Bulldog with a music heart and business sense.
The 57th Annual CMA Awards air live on November 8 at 8/7C on ABC.
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