Hagerstown 'hoodbilly' Joshua Morningstar celebrates new album

November 16, 2012|By BETH ROWLAND | Special to The Herald-Mail
  • Josh Morningstar said he overcame addiction and is now a singer/songwriter.
Submitted photo

Life hasn't always been as good for self-proclaimed "ho

odbilly" and Hagerstonian Joshua Morningstar as it is today.

Morningstar, 29, said he spent years struggling with heroin and all the darkness and despair that comes with such an addiction.

But today, this multi-talented singer-songwriter-musician has much to celebrate: one year of sobriety, a new album, a popular local radio show, an ebook, the arrival of a new baby next month with his partner Tessia Wile, and fatherhood to his two young sons Trey, 10, and Devin, 9, and his stepdaughter Hailey, 11.

"I'm feeling happy and blessed," Morningstar said.

It's those harder times in the past, though, that have often been his musical inspiration. Morningstar's new album, released earlier this month, is "Hymns for Heartaches."

The songs reflect true and often sad stories: "The Ballad of Kyra Lane" tells the story of a young local woman who succumbed to a heroin overdose. "Rain on the Window" acknowledges the hurt bad choices make for those who love us. "Get Over You," with its chorus "You've had enough of me, 'cause I'm not enough for you, You've given up on me, 'cause I can't live up to you" chronicles the end of a relationship. Not all his songs on the album are sad, though. Some are uplifting and speak to overcoming bad times.

The new album also showcases the diversity of  Morningstar's music, from uptempo hip-hop to masterful acoustic to soulful ballads, and the instruments he plays including guitar, drums, piano, flute, sax and trumpet — remarkably, all self-taught.

"Hymns for Heartache" follows his successful previous album, "Contradiction," which led Music Monthly to say, "It's easy to see Josh Morningstar being the next big thing."

Born and raised in Hagerstown, Morningstar attended South Hagerstown High School. He said his musical influences range from Hank Williams Sr. to Big Pun, from Lynyrd Skynyrd to Rakim. Those diverse tastes are reflected on Josh's radio show, "The Morningstar Medicine Show," which airs at 10 a.m. Wednesdays at WSHC 89.7 FM Shepherd University where, in addition to playing a wide range of music, Morningstar recently interviewed Hank Williams III.

Morningstar actually credits "Hank3" for the advice he gave him, which, combined with Tessia's support, led Josh for the first time to record his own music in his own way at his own speed for the new album.

"I treasure the independence I have as an artist," he said.

Simultaneous to his new album's release, Morningstar is publishing an ebook, "Hymns for Heartache: The Lyrics and Poems of Joshua Morningstar, Vol. 1," available through,, Barnes and iBooks at

However, in a move that might leave many scratching their heads, Morningstar decided to make "Hymns for Heartaches" available for a free download on the site. His website has the details. He said his rationale for the freebie is that it will allow folks who haven't yet heard his music the chance to listen without risk.

"I make music for a living," Morningstar said. "This is what I do and how I support my family. So I've decided that while the album is available for free download on the BandCamp site, it will also be on iTunes, Amazon and Spotify for purchase, for those who might want to support the cause monetarily."

Those who pay for the download will receive, in addition to the album art and album extras, a free copy of the ebook. The website has full details. Copies of both the album and ebook are available for sale at Josh Morningstar's performances, four of which are scheduled by the end of the year, with more extensive touring coming in January after the new baby is here.

Morningstar said the dark years are behind him and these days he's healthy man content to make his music and care for his family, even coaching his boys' basketball team. Of course, when you consider your fans to be part of your family as Morningstar does, that's a big family indeed.

To learn more

Go to A performance schedule is on the website and Josh's Facebook pages, his official page at Joshua Morningstar (Music Page). His personal Facebook page at Joshua Morningstar has samples of his songs as does his website.

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