DECATUR – Millikin University alumnus Ben Morgan credits the college for his rise up the country music charts.
“I wouldn't be where I am without Millikin,” he said.
Morgan's debut album “Sweet History” was released in February. He will begin touring with his band April 1 at the Biergarten at Anheuser-Busch in St. Louis, Mo.
Morgan attended Millikin from 2010 to 2014. With only one semester to go, he left to fulfill his dream to perform country music full-time.
“I felt I had to jump on it,” he said. “This way, I can say I did it while was I young.”
Opportunities to make albums were becoming available to the student in the later part of his academic career. The experience he gained while performing in Decatur may have helped him get attention. He played as much as he could including in popular bars such as Sliderz, Timbuktu and McGorray's Golf and Grille. He also lent his talents to events, fundraisers and as a fill-in musician for the local band, Rock of Ages.
“There's probably isn't a place I didn't play,” he said.
Morgan's experiences in Decatur gave him the inspiration to write the song "Famous in a Small Town."
While he was still at Millikin, he penned the lyrics, “Shooting for the stars is what they say, but I don't want to live my life that way.”
He took a songwriting class his junior year allowing him to communicate his feeling and plans. At that time in his life Morgan felt he was getting burnt on chasing a dream.
“It is a song about being content,” he said. “It is very simple and it's about being happy where you are.”
He reassures himself about staying where he is with the line, “My friends still love me, without a doubt.”
However, the feelings were short-lived as he left college a year later.
Morgan was raised in St. Louis around musical parents. He grew up around eclectic music that influenced his style. He describes his sound as a ton of country music, but with some hard rock.
“It is classic rock style with everyday country life,” Morgan said.
Although St. Louis is his hometown, he spent much of his childhood in Decatur. His parents graduated from Mount Zion High School and MacArthur High School in the 1980s. While visiting family during vacations and holidays, Morgan learned of Millikin and from a young age wanted to attend the school.
“It helped it was one of the finest fine arts schools,” he said.
Morgan dove into the music business as soon as he moved to the area by getting a job at Linda's House of Music. Since leaving Decatur, he continues to focus on music. Recording his debut album and preparing for the upcoming tour has taken up much of the past two years.
The tour is planned for most of the Midwest with the kick-off concert in his hometown of St. Louis. Morgan's time in the business may have started in Decatur, but he feels it was just the first step.
“In a career of music, it all comes down to coming up at the right place,” he said.