American Stories Tour Special Guest Biographies
We are pleased to welcome Mac Powell, Dana Bowman, Clint Romesha, Anthony Smith, Taya Kyle, Jimmy Fortune, Tate Stevens, Marla Cannon-Goodman, Phil O'Donnell, and Greg Strube as special guests on the American Stories Tour! Learn more about the special guests below and check for a show near you at craigmorgan.com/tour.
Mac Powell grew up in Clanton, Alabama. His love affair with music began at an early age as both of his parents would sing and play guitar around the house. Mac soon began to sing in the little bitty Baptist church by day, and listen to his Dad's record collection by night.
When Mac was a sophomore in high school, he moved to Atlanta, GA where his passion for music and faith found an outlet in the band THIRD DAY. Over the past 25 years THIRD DAY has helped transform Christian music and built a devoted fan base while traveling the world many times over, selling nearly 10 million albums, earning 4 Grammy awards, 1 American Music Award, 24 Dove Awards, and by being inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame.
In addition to his THIRD DAY contributions Mac has also put together two collections of independent original country music (Mac Powell in 2012 and Southpaw in 2014), which include collaborations with songwriters such as Darius Rucker, Christian Bush (Sugarland), Chris Stapleton, and Travis Tritt. The Southern rootsy - American rock collections are foot-stompin', hand clappin' tunes clearly pay tribute to the early musical inspirations from his childhood. Mac is always excited and grateful to play live, where you will hear a blend of classic and sing along Gospel, Country, and American Rock songs, combined with some of his favorite THIRD DAY numbers, and his latest original country tunes.
Dana Bowman has astounded the nation and the world with his drive, determination, and will to succeed. He is a retired Sergeant First Class with the U.S. Army where he was a Special Forces Soldier and a member of the U.S. Army’s elite parachute team, the Golden Knights. Dana Bowman is a double amputee. He lost his legs in an accident during the annual Golden Knights training in Yuma, Arizona, in 1994.
On February 6,1994, Bowman gained worldwide attention when he and his teammate Sgt. Jose Aguillon collided in midair during the team’s annual training.
Bowman and Aguillon were practicing a maneuver known as the Diamond Track. The maneuver calls for the jumpers to streak away from each other for about a mile and then turn 180 degrees and fly back toward each other crisscrossing in the sky. Bowman and Aguillon had demonstrated the Diamond Track more than fifty times without a mistake, but this time was different.
Rather than crisscrossing, the two skydivers slammed into each other at a combined speed of 300 miles per hour. Aguillon died instantly. Bowman’s legs were severed from his body, one above the knee and one below the knee. Bowman’s parachute opened on impact. He was taken to a hospital in Phoenix where doctors closed his leg wounds and stopped his internal bleeding.
Nine months later, he turned this tragedy into a triumph when he became the first double amputee to re-enlist in the United States Army. Bowman re-enlisted in the United States Army airborne style, skydiving with his commander into the ceremony, making his dream a reality. This achievement is just one example of Bowman’s many successes under adverse circumstances.
After Dana’s re-enlistment, he became the U.S. Parachute Team’s lead speaker and recruiting commander. Dana has been fortunate to have the opportunity to let his speeches touch so many from the physically challenged to the able-bodied. He strives to show physically challenged people can still work and excel in today’s society and military. Dana emphasizes the words amputee and uselessness are not synonymous.
Dana has given more than 400 speeches in the last few years and has been featured in magazines such as Sports Illustrated, Reader’s Digest, People and many more. There have also been numerous television programs which focused on Dana and his story. Some of the programs include: Dateline, A Current Affair, Real TV, NBC Person of the Week, Day and Date and Extra.
Dana retired from the United States Army in 1996. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in commercial aviation at the University of North Dakota in May of 2000.
Dana spends a great deal of his personal time working with other amputees and disabled or physically challenged people. "Dana inspires other amputees to walk again. His future plans are to continue to speak to the public and fly helicopters.
BORN: August 17, 1981 - Lake City, California
ENTERED SERVICE: Lake City, California
BRANCH: U.S. Army
DUTY: War in Afghanistan
CURRENT RESIDENCE: North Dakota
NURISTAN PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN, 2009 | TRUE GRIT SOLDIER
STAFF SERGEANT, U.S. ARMY
Bravo Troop, 3rd Squadron, 61st Calvary Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry
COMBAT OUTPOST KEATING, NAMED FOR A U.S. officer who had been killed there in 2006, was near the town of Kamdesh in a remote and desolate part of eastern Afghanistan near the Pakistan border. When Staff Sergeant Clinton Romesha arrived there by helicopter in the summer of 2009, his first thought was that the American position was very vulnerable—a few prefab buildings sitting in a bowl at the base of three steep mountains that provided perfect cover for an enemy attack. Soon after he got there, in fact, an Army study concluded that Camp Keating was “indefensible,” and plans were made to close it.
Before he deployed, Romesha’s commanding officers gave a frank assessment of the dangers at Kamdesh. But Romesha believed that “true grit” soldiers earned their pay in such situations. His grandfather had fought in the Battle of the Bulge. His father had done two tours in Vietnam. His older brothers also served in the military. Growing up in the tiny Northern California town of Lake City (population sixty), Romesha always thought of the military as a family business, and had joined the Army shortly after turning eighteen in 1999.
When Romesha arrived at Keating, it was manned about fifty U.S. soldiers and another thirty-five or so Afghan government troops. He got used to almost daily probing attacks by the Taliban. Then at dawn on October 3, 2009, about three hundred enemy fighters launched a coordinated assault that began with rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machine-gun fire. The U.S. mortar position was soon destroyed and the Afghan government soldiers threw down their weapons and ran.
With the enemy about to pour through Camp Keating’s front gate, Romesha grabbed an MK-48 machine gun and headed to the cover of the camp generator. As he took out an enemy position that had been cutting down U.S. soldiers, an RPG slammed into the generator, shredding his upper body with shrapnel.
After a comrade bandaged his arm to stop the bleeding, Romesha ran into the compound, picked up a rifle from the ground, and opened fire on an enemy machine-gun nest on the hill above the camp. After destroying it and killing three enemy fighters running toward him, he saw that a group of Taliban were trying to get to the post’s ammunition depot. Knowing that if they took control of the building the outnumbered US. Force might be wiped out, he ran back to one of the barracks being used as a defensive position, got five volunteers, and led them through heavy fire to the corner of the depot, killing several Taliban fighters also heading there.
As the enemy fell back, Romesha rushed into heavy fire to recover the bodies of two fallen comrades so that the Taliban could not carry them away as trophies of war. Late that afternoon, after twelve hours of fighting, the area around the front gate was finally closed again.
Eight Americans and an estimated 150 enemy fighters died in the Battle of Kamdesh. Three days afterward, the remaining American force was evacuated by helicopter and a B-1 bomber leveled the buildings.
A year and a half later, Clint Romesha left the Army and settled with his wife and children in North Dakota. In October 2012, he was informed that he was to be awarded the Medal of Honor. President Barack Obama put the medal around his neck on February 11, 2013, and Romesha spent that evening with his family, many of the men who had stood with him at Camp Keating, and some of the wives and children of those who had died there.
Anthony Smith is an multi award winning and critically acclaimed Singer Songwriter from east Tennessee. Anthony moved to Nashville to pursue his dream of being a recording artist. Once in music city Anthony's career began to take off signing a record contract with Mercury Records scoring 3 top 40 hit singles, he also signed a publishing deal as a songwriter for Universal and soon became the talk of Nashville winning Music Row Magazine's prestigious Breakthrough Songwriter Of The Year Award as well as numerous BMI, ASCAP & NSAI awards. Anthony is one of the most sought after songwriters in the world with over 250 of his songs recorded by some of the biggest names in music today. In 2016 his song (Bringin Back The Sunshine) was recorded by Blake Shelton and became the official song of NASCAR for NBC. Anthony has written songs for TV, Major Motion Pictures and his songs have been recorded and performed by a virtual who's who of superstars such as George Strait, Tim McGraw, Blake Shelton, Taylor Swift, Eric Church, Miranda Lambert, Trace Adkins, Faith Hill, Montgomery/Gentry, Rascal Flatts, Kenny Chesney & Coley Mcabe, Randy Houser, Trisha Yearwood, Craig Wayne Boyd, Kenny Rogers, Lonestar, Confederate Railroad, Blackberry Smoke, Shooter Jennings, Sammy Kershaw, Don Williams, Ronnie Milsap, Lorrie Morgan, David Allen Coe, Tommy Shane Steiner, Kevin Denny, Halfway To Hazard, and many more.
Taya Kyle is an American Daughter, an American Mom and an American Wife that women throughout the world can feel a connection with.
As a focal point for military and first responder families throughout the United States, Taya has become a beacon of light for women through displaying her tenacity, strength and faith in God in steering her family through tragedy.
Following on from the heartbreaking, sudden death of her husband, Chris Kyle – the author of New York Timesbest-selling book and Academy Award-winning motion picture, American Sniper – Taya has worked tirelessly to extend his legacy to the American people through the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation.
The Chris Kyle Frog Foundation aims to build a highly connected network of military and first responder families through meaningful interactive experiences.
In her own right, Taya has become a well-respected figure for military and first responder families and American women through appearances on the likes of Patriot Tour with Lone Survivor Marcus Luttrell and regular media appearances representing Chris and the Foundation.
Taya’s story, American Wife (released May 2015 – HarperCollins), has given Taya the platform to tell her story, while also teaching on grief, faith and love.
It represents the opportunity for Taya to be more deeply connected with American women, tell her story and use her experiences to help others.
Jimmy Fortune toured, sang and performed with the legendary Statler Brothers for 21 years. He joined them first as a temporary replacement for Lew DeWitt, after DeWitt heard him singing at a ski resort and recommended him. Following an audition in Nashville, Jimmy was contacted by the Statler Brothers and performed his first show with them on January 28, 1982, in Savannah, Georgia. Due to the debilitating effects of Crohn’s Disease, Lew was unable to return to the stage with the Statlers, andJimmy was hired as a permanent replacement in August of 1982.
Fortune quickly lived up to his name. He wrote the group’s second No. 1 hit, “Elizabeth,” on their 1983 album Today, and followed that with two more No. 1 hits–“My Only Love” (from 1984’s Atlanta Blue) and “Too Much On My Heart” (from 1985’s Pardners in Rhyme). Fortune also wrote the top-10 hit “Forever” from 1986’s Four for the Show and co-wrote the top-10 hit “More Than a Name on the Wall” from 1988’s The Greatest Hits.
Jimmy has performed in all of the U.S. States, in Canadian Provinces, and in front of audiences as large as 100,000. He was part of the Statlers’ annual Happy Birthday USA celebration in Staunton, Virginia, for 14 years. He also sang on many of the Statlers’ gold, platinum, and double platinum recordings. Jimmy’s career included The Nashville Network’s popular “The Statler Brothers Show” which aired for seven seasons and debuted in 1991 as the highest rated show for the network. Jimmy was privileged to perform at the White House on two occasions, once for President Ronald Reagan, and once for President George H. W. Bush. He also presented a special gift to actress Elizabeth Taylor by singing his song “Elizabeth” to her for a birthday celebration.
Jimmy and The Statler Brothers were inducted into the GMA (Gospel Music Association) Hall of Fame on October 29, 2007, and inducted into the CMA (Country Music Association) Hall of Fame in June 29, 2008.
After the Statler Brothers retired on October 26, 2002, Jimmy seized the opportunity to launch a solo career to share new music with his fans. His first solo CD, When One Door Closes, was released August 2003 on Audium/Koch. He released a gospel album, I Believe, in June 2005, a Christmas CD, Feels Like Christmas, in 2006, a live concert DVD in 2007 a country CD, “Windows” in 2009, “Lessons” in 2012, and “Hits and Hymns” CD and DVD through Spring House Productions in 2015. Jimmy is currently living in Nashville, writing, and touring.
Music drives me,” he says. “It is really deep down in my soul, that is who I am, the music…” Tate Stevens has captured America’s hearts by doing the one thing he does best: being himself.With his powerful vocals, compelling life story and irresistible personality, Tate has won Fox’s X Factor and scored a Top 5 album. He’s also found success when his song “Holler If You’re With Me,” which debuted during a Pepsi commercial that aired during the Grammys, was chosen to be featured during the Southeastern Conference basketball tournament.
It’s no surprise that he’s also quickly built a fan base numbering in the millions, especially among working men and the women who love real men. Tate has emerged as a sex symbol of the flyover states, where men are valued for accepting responsibility, respecting women and relishing the simple joys in life. He has a down-to-earth accessibility, a sense of humor that rivals Bill Engvall’s and the ability to put into words what men want to say.
“Music drives me,” he says. “It is really deep down in my soul. That is who I am, the music,” he says. “I love performing for people because music makes people feel good. I love it when people say, ‘That song spoke to me.’”
Tate is a stand-up guy in a world of superficiality and instant gratification. In life, love and music, he’s in it for the long haul, while never losing that mischievous twinkle in his eye. He’s a man’s man and an expert outdoorsman who would rather install a mirror than peer into one.
“I think people see that there’s a realness there,” he says. “I don’t know too many guys that get manicures or shave their chests. I don’t think the majority of people wear fancy clothes. I am the guy next door; everybody knows me. I am your neighbor, the guy who lives down the street.”
Tate became a seemingly overnight sensation when he won Fox’s X Factor in 2012. “I think it was because I am a real person,” he says of his win. “I believe that country music fans are the most loyal and giving and they are the ones who pulled me through that show. “As Simon Cowell said, when “you hear how good his voice is and his story, you could not NOT root for him. I think America got it right.”
After his victory, Tate quickly released his self-titled first album, which debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart. Music critic Chuck Dauphin says, “What really sets Stevens apart is his way with a ballad. … He demonstrates a depth that brings to mind artists such as one of his biggest influences, Garth Brooks. Tate Stevens shows on his debut album that he’s got the talent to be a long-term voice in this business.”
His second album, which was also produced by Blake Chancey, takes his music to the next level in every area, from the songwriting and song selection to the vocal performance and production. He has captured a fresh sound that fits comfortably with today’s chart-topping hits, but features a strong foundation of substance and timeless messages. With the life he’s led, it would be impossible to create music devoid of meaning or real emotion.
“When I am looking for songs, it has to grab me in a couple of ways,” he says. “I have to be able to relate to it in some way. It doesn’t have to be so meaningful that it is my life story, but it has to speak to me in some way, “ he says. “’Better at Night’ is a party song, and it grabs me because things tend to happen at night. That is when the fun starts and I can relate to that.
“Then you have a song like ‘That’s My Girl’ that really talks about all women, meaning my wife. ‘She is a Carolina walk on the beach, she is an Alabama sunset, a Georgia peach.’ It is all women, if you will. It is the everyday woman, but also the one who is the rock.“
Tate can’t remember a time when music wasn’t at the center of his life. The youngest of five children of an Air Force airman, he was born in Japan and soon moved to Wichita Falls, Texas, where his father played in a country band. When Tate was 5, he joined his father onstage to sing Merle Haggard’s “Silver Wings.” “I remember all of the people staring at me and that feeling of acceptance,” he says. “I just knew that I didn’t want that feeling to go away, whatever that was. From then on, all through my early childhood and high school, I would sing anywhere and everywhere that I could.”
In 1981, he moved to Belton, Mo., an area where he remains to this day. A star athlete in football and wrestling, he declined college scholarships in both sports to pursue music. He joined a band called Dixie Cadillacs and hit the road in December 1994, just seven months after graduating.
Bookings came easily, and the band performed 250 shows a year, six days as week, for five years. The band covered songs by Tate’s influences, such as Garth Brooks, George Strait, Gene Watson, Merle Haggard, John Conlee and George Jones. These performances allowed him to develop his stagecraft and hone his unique sound, but their popularity meant long absences from his wife, his high school sweetheart, and their young family.
One night in 2000, after he tucked his 3-year-old son into bed, he stood up to leave the room. “He sat up and grabbed me and said, ‘No! No, Daddy, no!’ Finally I said, ‘Daddy is tired. I have to go to bed. You have to go to sleep.’ He said, ‘No, you will leave.” I realized it was time to come home and do what I’m supposed to do.” His family came first, so his dreams would have to wait.
For the next decade, he worked in construction and machinery before working for the city’s water, public works and street departments. “I kept playing music on the side. I was always playing on the weekends. At that point, I realized that music was going to have to be a hobby. I didn’t like it, but that was the right decision.”
“I was always happy, because I’m a dad first. My kids are my life, and I don’t regret anything. If I did, I couldn’t live with myself. I wasn’t happy with my professional life, but other than that I had a great life.”
Fortunately, his wife and children hounded him into auditioning for the X Factor after signing him up without his knowledge, and there was no turning back. His talent and destiny couldn’t be denied, so after a necessary detour to do the right thing, Tate Stevens is now right where he’s supposed to be.
“It’s hard to describe what having this chance means to me because this is really all I have ever wanted to do. This is what I dreamed about when I was a little kid. Getting to walk off of a bus and walk onstage and perform now means the world to me.”
Marla Cannon-Goodman was raised in Kingston Springs, Tennessee, where she had a front row seat for country music history as she watched her father, Buddy Cannon, shepherd the careers of new and legendary artists as a producer, songwriter and record label executive. Now, she has earned her own place as one of country music’s most-beloved and respected hit-makers.
Since her first cut by Sammy Kershaw in 1996, Marla has been making country music history of her own with songs recorded by artists such as George Strait, Eddie Arnold, Eric Church, Billy Currington, Mindy Smith, Kenny Chesney and Sara Evans. Marla’s chart topping hits include Lee Ann Womack’s number one smash “The Fool,” Tracy Byrd’s number one “Ten Rounds With José Cuervo” and Rodney Atkins’ number one hit “Cleaning This Gun.” She found further chart success with Blake Shelton’s top-15 hit single “Don’t Make Me.” You can also find her song “Unfair Weather Friend” on the Willie Nelson/Merle Haggard duet album, Django and Jimmie.
Marla Cannon-Goodman wrote “Cleaning This Gun” (Rodney Atkins), “Don’t Make Me” (Blake Shelton), “Rock On” (Tucker Beathard),“Ten Rounds with Jose Cuervo” (Tracy Byrd), “The Fool” (Lee Ann Womack), and songs recorded by Lauren Alaina, Eddy Arnold, Kenny Chesney, Eric Church, Billy Currington, Sara Evans, Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson, and Joe Nichols.
SFC (Ret) GREGORY ALLEN STUBE
US ARMY SPECIAL FORCES
Born in Long Beach, CA, in 1969
Son of a career Navy man, Richard H. Stube
Enlisted to US Army Infantry in July, 1988
Selected for the Green Berets in November, 1992
Trained as Special Forces Medical Sergeant, 18D. Training included surgery, anesthesia, trauma management, pharmacology, minor dentistry, veterinary subjects and more, in order to help the “A-Team” function where there is no doctor
Attended Defense Language Training, acquiring proficiency in Russian Language, which was maintained throughout Special Forces career
Received additional skill training as a Dive Medical Technician at the Special Forces Underwater Operations Facility in Key West, FL
SERE Qualified (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape)
As a career parachutist, Stube earned the qualification of Jumpmaster and was ultimately awarded the Master Parachutist Badge
Participated in initial development of Special Forces Advanced Urban Combat training doctrine and 10th SFG(A) SFAUC course. Weapons capabilities and shooting remained at the core of Special Forces proficiency and competency throughout a career on the teams.
Stube spent what totals years in hostile fire zones with the Special Forces throughout the 1990s. He then served as Cadre in the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School.
While serving in Combat Operations in the Global War on Terror, Stube was wounded in Afghanistan during Operation Medusa. Stube’s A-Team encountered overwhelming numbers of Taliban fighters in The Battle of Sperwan Ghar, which lasted over a week. Stube’s wounds from a remotely detonated IED and enemy fire seemed fatal, but instead he survived to endure months of hospitalization and surgeries. Huge wounds to his abdomen, hip and pelvis eventually closed, his nearly severed leg was restored, and extensive full-thickness burns were grafted.
Stube has since retired with 23 years of service, to become the host of his own television show on NBC Sports, “Coming Home with Greg Stube.” Since the conclusion of the tv series, public speaking, consulting, and charity work have made up the bulk of Stube’s life after the military, with a focus on youth training and development. He currently serves as a leadership presenter for the FBI and the FBI National Academy, in DC and Quantico.