For Morgan Myles, tearing her anterior cruciate ligament while playing soccer in her senior year of high school was probably the best thing that could have happened to her.
While the rising county music star and powerhouse vocalist had long been a student of the arts — performing in musicals, learning the guitar and playing the piano with her mother since the age of 5 — the field had always looked more practical growing up in Williamsport, Pa. However, that fateful injury, on that fateful day, eliminated all doubts.
“It definitely just put the focus on music,” Myles said. “I just kind of felt like that was a sign from God — that music is what I needed to be doing.”
So, music is what she did.
After enrolling at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Mass., for her freshman year and then transferring to the School of Music at Belmont University to earn her degree, she took off for Nashville, Tenn., and a shot at the stage.
Flash forward through a six-song EP, a No. 22 spot on the iTunes Country Music chart and almost a decade later, and Myles has made quite the name for herself, now on the brink of having it all.
In fact, her name is sure to pop up on just about any country music list that has the words “next” or “watch” within a make-shift ballpark’s stage of the story’s title — all under the same prophecy that, for Myles, 2016 is sure to be her year.
Recently, she was named an “artist primed to break out” in Country Weekly’s “2016 Ones to Watch,” one of NASH/Country Weekly’s “Five New Female Stars Breaking Out in 2016,” and even made an appearance in Rolling Stone magazine as one of “10 Country Artist You Need to Know.”
On Thursday, July 7, the “triple-threat” vocalist, guitarist and songwriter will take to the Freeman Stage at Bayside in West Fenwick, opening for Academy of Country Music Awards winner Justin Moore, who she used to intern for at Big Machine Label Group back in Nashville.
“It’s been a really tough road trying to get to where we are,” Myles said of herself and her band, and their success so far. “It feels good to keep moving forward.
“From Day 1, we had this natural positive energy between us. Musically, everybody’s hearts are in the right place. They’re my brothers. They’ll do anything for me, and I’ll do anything for them.”
While Myles said that it’s the support from her bandmates, who have become family to her, as well as her own family, that keeps her going, it’s also the support from another family that continues to drive her toward her dream.
Working as nanny for a family in Nashville when she’s not out on tour, it’s the 11-year-old and 9-year-old who she takes care of that she refuses to let down.
After all, it was for them that she titled her debut EP “Miss Morgan Myles,” which, without the “Myles,” is how they reverently refer to her.
Three years ago, tragedy struck, when those kids lost their mother after a battle with ALS, not long after Myles lost her own grandfather.
“We got hit heavy. I lost my grandfather at the same time, and then we lost Amy. You kind of feel like you hit your rock bottom, but I had to be strong for them,” Myles said.
“I can’t show them defeat. We’ve been through so much.”
However, just as she had after tearing her ACL, Myles looked to God once again and tried to make sense of all of the seeming senselessness through her music.
“Before she died, their mom said to me, “You gotta keep doing what you love to do,’” she recalled. “It put life into perspective. God gives us challenges, and it’s how we rise through the challenges.
“It definitely defines who I am. It’s my backstory now. The kids are definitely my life. We’ve been through a lot, but it’s why I can sing the songs that I can sing.”
No matter what song the future is ready to sing, now closer than ever, and just miles away from realizing her dream, she won’t be giving up on that dream anytime soon.
“I’m praying that’s what’s happening. I don’t have a record label or management. It’s kind of like God’s just with me,” Myles said. “For me, it’s just about staying positive and keeping focused on what you love to do. The only pressure I really feel is wanting to be able take care of the people that I care about the best that I can.
“We all knew it’s not easy going into this, but we always remind ourselves that if we didn’t have the passion in our hearts and weren’t doing what we love, then we wouldn’t be happy.”
Myles will perform at the Freeman Stage at Bayside on Thursday, July 7, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are still available online at www.freemanstage.org. For more on Myles, check out her website at www.morganmyleslive.com.