Maddie & Tae Set the Record Straight on “Sierra”

Maddie & Tae are no strangers to telling it like it is, but let’s be clear: They’re not out to hurt anyone. Which is why the girls were a little distraught to learn that some thought the new single “Sierra” was a little … well … mean.

“We were like, ‘No, that’s not it. I don’t think you’re fully listening,” the duo’s Maddie Marlow said during a recent chat at CMT’s offices in Nashville.

The song, which addresses a bully named Sierra, is more about empowering yourself in the face of adversity and a cautionary tale to the unkind.

“The whole purpose of the song is to tell others, ‘Hey, there are going to be mean people. People that tell you you’re ugly and you’re not good enough and you’re a loser just like this situation,'” Marlow added. “But you have to come out and look in the mirror every morning and say, ‘You know what? I’m good enough.’ I’m good enough for me and worthy enough for me, and that’s what matters.’”

“It’s really easy to put that off on someone else, too, saying ‘I hope they grow up and I hope they learn their lesson,” Tae Dye said. “But it’s what you do about the situation, because you can’t control what’s going on over there. All you can control is what decision you make to be happy or sad or let it get to you. That’s why we hope this song teaches people — or reminds people — to make that ‘happy’ decision.”

Marlow summed it up with one very astute observation.

“At the end of the day, ‘hurt’ people hurt people,” she said. “That happens all the time. Most broken people hurt others while they’re broken.”

Such wise girls.

And time truly does heal all wounds, even between Marlow and the person known as Sierra.

“We are friendly again,” Marlow said. “We’ve reconciled and made up. I sent her a message and said, ‘Heads up. This is the next single. Hope all is well, no hard feelings.’ She sent back this super-nice message, ‘We’ve grown up since then, I’m really excited for you.’ Just a very sweet message. You just never know what someone is going through in his or her life.

“People can be going through some really tough things. I don’t exactly know what her situation was. But having said that, it’s no excuse to belittle others and treat others badly. So when that does happen to you, you have to wake up every morning and say ‘I’m good enough for me.’ We live our lives to please God and ourselves and our families, and that’s all we really worry about. You have to take that negativity and let it build you and make you stronger.”

That motto is one the girls still rely on to get them through down days.

“Both of us have had our own situations,” Marlow said. “Even when we were together going to different writers and things, people would say, ‘Oh, they’re cute.’ There’s so much more we want to offer. There are so many doors that get closed and so many people that are ugly to you.

“Life is 90 percent choice and 10 percent what happens to you. You have to make that choice every day to be positive, but it is hard, let me tell you!” she said with a laugh.

Samantha is a country radio insider with a deep love for the music and its stars. She can often be found on a red carpet or at a late-night guitar pull.