Safety Harbor native Jonnie Morgan aims for nation’s top songwriter title

Safety Harbor's Jonnie Morgan (center) has made it to the final ten of a nationwide contest to name the country's best songwriter. Credit: Facebook/Jonnie Morgan Band.

Safety Harbor’s Jonnie Morgan (center) has made it to the final ten of a nationwide contest to name the country’s best songwriter. Credit: Facebook/Jonnie Morgan Band.

Safety Harbor native Jonnie Morgan is one of the final ten contestants in a national competition to decide America’s number one songwriter, and he hopes his friends from his hometown will help him make it to the top.

Speaking to Safety Harbor Connect from Orlando, where he formed the Jonnie Morgan Band shortly after graduating from the University of Central Florida in 2010, Morgan said he can’t believe where he is now—possibly being judged by the legendary Quincy Jones, among other industry heavyweights—based on where he was just a few short months ago.

“Three months ago I entered the JBL songwriter competition, called EON One Take, which was held in 24 cities, and they took 8 finalists from each city,” Morgan said by phone earlier this week. “I went and sang my song and I got a free mic, so I thought that was cool.”

“Then, in early November, I got a call saying I made it to the top 20 in the country. Then I found out last week that I made the top ten in the country. So it’s been pretty crazy.”

To vote for Jonnie Morgan in the JBL Audo contest, visit his You Tube page and "like" the video. Credit: Facebook/Jonnie Morgan Band.

To vote for Safety Harbor’s Jonnie Morgan in the JBL Audo contest, visit his You Tube page and “like” the video. Credit: Facebook/Jonnie Morgan Band.

Morgan, who went to Safety Harbor Elementary and Middle Schools and graduated from Countryside High, said he didn’t dream of making it as a musician when he left the Harbor for UCF.

“I was an economics and marketing major, but in college I always played guitar,” the 29-year-old, whose older brother, Joel, is a Pinellas County Sheriff’s detective, said. “And then I started writing songs as a junior, and I fell in love with it. After I graduated with my degree, I formed my band, and I’ve never looked back.”

Since then, Morgan’s band has opened for Cheap Trick, Dave Matthews Band and Sammy Hagar, and they’ve played the Safety Harbor Seafood Festival and Third Friday Music Series back in his hometown.

“It feels like home whenever I come back there,” he said. “I still know a lot of people in the area, and it’s cool when they come out to see you. It’s a small town and a great community and I always enjoy coming back there.”

Morgan credits his parents for allowing him, and his older brothers, to pursue his dream.

Safety Harbor's Jonnie Morgan formed his Jonnie Morgan Band shortly after graduating from UCF in 2010. Credit: Facebook/Jonnie Morgan Band.

Jonnie Morgan formed his Jonnie Morgan Band shortly after graduating from UCF in 2010. Credit: Facebook/Jonnie Morgan Band.

“Our parents always pushed us to follow our dreams, don’t follow money,” Morgan said, noting he and Joel’s eldest brother, Jason, is a pilot. “That played a big part in where I am today.”

Where he is today is on the verge of flying to Los Angeles to record an album with the full backing of the music industry’s star-making machine if he wins the contest.

And despite his humble Harbor beginnings, Morgan believes he has what it takes to win it all.

“I’ve been grinding and prepping for this competition for three months,” he said of the contest, which concludes on December 16. “I really want to win this thing, and I know I can. All I need is a little help.”

To vote for Jonnie Morgan in the JBL EON One Take contest, visit his YouTube page and “like” the video. The voting ends on December 15, 2016.

For more on the Jonnie Morgan Band, visit their website and Facebook page

5 Comments
  1. Jonnie Morgan 2 years ago
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