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CHASING HIS DREAMS

With the recent release of his EP, Wesley Chapel High grad Zakk Morgan takes another step to fulfilling his goals.

Becoming a famous rock star is the dream of musical kids all over the world, but more often than not those dreams transform into different plans for the future.

Zakk Morgan, who graduated from Wesley Chapel High this year and released his EP Less Sleep, More Dreams on Sept. 30, is managing to keep that dream alive.

Morgan craves a life on the road, not a life behind a desk, saying nothing is better than the thrill of performing. "I love having the opportunity to captivate an audience, and potentially touch a part of their lives," he said.

For as long as he can remember, Morgan has been around music. His parents and his grandparents introduced him to songs they loved as he was growing up. He draws some inspiration from Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson, but Morgan's style could best be described as a mix of pop, rock and alternative. His biggest influences include bands such as Fall Out Boy, Panic! at the Disco and even Tampa natives Set it Off. Pressed to name an artist (past or present) he'd enjoy collaborating with, he named Adam Levine.

In addition to going to school at Pasco Hernando State College to study marketing and working at a car dealership, Morgan practices with his band, INFINITYONHIGH!, which is scheduled to perform at the Orpheum in Ybor City on Nov. 1.

Last year Morgan was a contestant on the television show X Factor, where he received four yeses from the panel of celebrity judges, impressing even the notoriously tough Simon Cowell. "It was like a little glimpse of hitting the big time," Morgan said. It was a chance for him to learn more about the career he wants to pursue, and meet new people who shared his interests. Even though he didn't make it as far as he hoped, the experience helped fuel his dream.

"He's so dedicated to his music, and it's really cool to see him get all of these opportunities for his career," said Rachel Helen, a fan and sophomore at East Lake High.

Criticism can come with the territory when a singer-songwriter breaks onto the scene, and Morgan has experienced it, with people telling him he's not good enough, or that he should pursue a more realistic career. When this happens, Morgan channels his frustrations into a song and the stress begins to melt away. "I accept that it's a challenging career choice," he said. "But in reality that's what will make it worth it when I get where I need to be."

He stays optimistic: "Don't let one bad thing in your life throw shade on the millions of good things that shine for you."

Want to hear Morgan? His new EP is available on iTunes; you can also find him on Facebook, Twitter and Youtube (zakkgioguitar), where he posts covers of songs.

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