Adam Warner is proud to have served in the U.S. Marines. Not only that, he is thankful that he was in the Marines before he pursued his career in country music.
“I think the biggest thing really is, when you get in the music business,the word you hear most often is ‘no’,” says the Illinois native.
“Being in the Marine Corp, I developed a pretty thick skin. I get frustrated when I hear no, like everybody else, but it’s not enough to make me throw a fit and quit. The Marines taught me to have the mental fortitude to stick in there and realize you’re going to hear no a lot more times than you will hear yes. Then there’s the discipline aspect, where you’re constantly trying to evolve. I think that is important to have when you’re going after a career in music.”
Warner comes from a background of family farmers, and he lived on land that his great-great-grandfather began farming more than 100 years ago. His mother’s family is also several generations of farmers. The singer knows the hard work that goes with farming and the rewards of being a member of multi-generations of farmers. “My grand-daddy is 85 and he is still farming,” he says proudly. It’s on the farm where he picked up his love for fishing and hunting, which continues today. The catch-and-release fisherman can often be found participating in area fishing tournaments, and while he’s taken third place several times, he’s still looking for the first-place trophy.
Warner is also proud to have relatives on both sides who were in the military. He is proud of that heritage, which taught him to love the land he lives on, the country he lives in and the family he is a part of.
Warner started his first band at 13 and was never without a guitar from that point on. His heroes in music were the singer/songwriters who were considered rebels and innovators at the same time – folks like Hank Williams Junior and Senior, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and George Jones. He loved the hard-driving, traditional country and determined that he wanted to carry that sound forward throughout his career.
After high school the singer attended junior college near his hometown of Lawrenceville in Southeastern Illinois, where he studied audio engineering. “It wasn’t the right time for me to be in college,’ Warner admits. “I didn’t really focus on classes and at that point I decided to join the military. I signed up for the Marines in November 2003 and stayed for five years.”
All the time he was in the Marines, Warner had a guitar and never forgot his aspirations to be in music. After leaving the service, he moved to Nashville, enrolling in Middle Tennessee State University where he went back to studying audio engineering.
“Everybody I talked to in the audio classes said they were working a part-time job while they were interning and trying to find a full-time job in music. I decided I had to study something that would bring in an income so I switched majors to computer information technology because I thought there would be a guaranteed job with that. I also wanted to graduate in four years, which I did, and I was on the Dean’s List with a 4.0 average, something I am very proud of.”
After a couple false starts, in a duo and as a band member, Warner was encouraged to go out as a solo act. The encouragement came at the right time, because it seemed every time he began working on a project, it didn’t work out. In fact, at one point he did consider that maybe the music business wasn’t for him.
“It wasn’t until I started meeting and writing with different people that I decided I didn’t want to be sitting on my couch one day, wondering if I could have made it in music,” he explains his decision to pursue a solo career. “I talked to my wife and I prayed about it and it was after that when I decided to go for a career as a solo act. As a close friend pointed out, if you go solo, the only person you have to answer to is yourself.”
The decision was the right one, as Warner immediately started to see his career move in the right direction. He heard that the Tennessee Titans were looking for a new song for the team, so he called his buddies Quinn Loggins and Trafton Harvey and they wrote “Welcome to the South.” The Titans liked the song and they continue to play the video before each game in Nashville. That led him to host a segment of Monday Night Football in 2018.
Next, Trace Adkins heard about Warner, and being the patriot and supporter of the military that he is, he invited the singer to tour with him. “I got to follow him around and learn from him, so I was like ‘This is alright.’ He is a great guy. He treated me great and I learned a ton from him. I was trying to soak up everything I could while I was with him ‘cause I didn’t know how long it would last.”
The association lasted long enough for the two entertainers to record “Semper Fi,” a song that Adkins recorded for his “Proud To Be Here” album and which Warner first heard when he was in the Marine Corp. The song won Warner the Vox Pop award for Country Music Song of the Year at the 17th annual Independent Music Awards in June of 2019.
In his acceptance speech, Warner said, “I’m gonna dedicate this song to my fellow Marines out there, and I thank God for letting us be here and all the blessings he’s put on us. Also to my manager, my wife, my band, my producer and Trace Adkins for being a part of it. It’s an honor to be here -- it means a lot.”
Warner has released an EP, “Can’t Get Enough,” and his first studio album, “Big Storm,” which was heralded as a welcome return to traditional country with songs that are mini-movies about every-day life. He is now working on his next project, which he says will stay in the same realm but as the Marines taught him, will show some growth in his music.
“I think I bring authenticity to country music,” says the man who is a genuine farmer and patriot. “Not every song has to be about a girl in short shorts or beer or dirt roads. I think there is a place for all that but because of my background and the things I’ve done and places I’ve been and the people I’ve met, I feel like I have a lot to offer with my music. I like writing fun songs, but I really miss those songs that, when you’re listening, you just close your eyes and see the song unfold in front of you. I’m just trying to be a little bit different.”
The new project he is working on has a more modern sound but stays true to songs that tell a story and paint a picture as he sings it. “I feel if you’re not changing you stay stagnant and you’re not going to grow as an artist. You can’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone. It’s like a little 15-degree shift here and there yet you stay true to what you love. If you chase what the industry is doing, you’re chasing a moving target. I’d rather just do what I do.”
Warner’s heart is also in songwriting and in that side of the business he prefers not to fly solo because he loves to write with other people. “They might hear something different from what I’m hearing and I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh that makes way more sense.’ I’m always listening for song ideas. Like this song I wrote with Keith Burns. I had gone to see him play and we were talking, and he said, ‘Man I’m thirsty.’ I told him I’d get us something because ‘I never let anyone drink alone.’ He said, ‘Good I like having a drinking buddy.’ We looked at each other and he said, ‘Don’t you dare write that song with anyone but me.’ We wrote it and John Schneider cut it.”
Warner has been out on the road and meeting his fans from coast to coast. In addition to Adkins, he has opened shows for Midland, Lee Brice, Jamey Johnson, Neil McCoy, Randy Houser, Rhonda Vincent and Jason Crabb and American Young. Plus, he made his debut at the Grand Ole Opry House to perform on the 39th annual Sunday Mornin’ Country on June 9, 2019, a proud moment for the singer.
A natural people person, he likes to stay after the show and meet as many people as possible. “I hear a lot of people tell me that they like the way country music is turning back the way it used to me. I tell them I appreciate that because that is what I like. Everybody has had their heart broken or they’ve lost someone they love. Everybody can identify with songs like that. It’s like Waylon said – ‘Where do you take it from here?’ That’s what I’m trying to do.”
Warner takes every opportunity to give back to the Military. He was the USO artist of the Month in January 2019. During that time he spent a lot of time on base at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky visiting with the soldiers and their families, He plans to return to Ft. Campbell throughout 2020 to continue to show support for the soldiers and their families therel.
Warner is eager to participate in USO tours because he remembers how much those visits meant to him when he served. “When we had the opportunity to have live music on the base, you just got to “Be normal for a little bit,” he explains. Warner says the opportunity to pass on what other entertainers gave to him and his fellow military is something he is really looking forward to being able to give to those who are currently serving.
Warner is hard working, an attribute he learned from working on the family farm and being in the Marines. His wife, Megan is in real estate development and the couple buy houses and flip them. The singer trades his guitar for carpenter’s tools when not writing, touring or rehearsing. It supports the family while working on the music career. The singer/songwriter says. “We work together to flip these homes and it has helped us become stronger as a family.”
“I never take anything or anyone for granted.” Warner says. “Everyone on our team has worked hard to get me to this point, and I humbly appreciate it, especially my wife, who is so encouraging to me. I have a lot of work ahead of me and don’t mind that at all.”