Maren Morris Thinks Saying She Left Country Music is "A Little Bit Hyperbolic," But She Had To Make A Change For Her Health

Maren Morris: "I really wasn't trying to be negative. I just had to do this to sleep at night and be a good mom and set a good example for my fellow songwriters and employees."

Maren Morris used her hourlong interview with the New York Times Popcast podcast to further explain her comments about stepping away from country music. While her statement made headlines then, clarification on what she truly meant and the depth of the years-long motivation behind her frustration were hard to find.

Morris explained on the Popcast that she had faced pushback for her progressive sound since her second single, "80s Mercedes." In 2020, she used her acceptance speech at the CMA Awards to promote other women in country music by encouraging people to listen to them. A turning point came in 2021 when she used social media to speak against Morgan Wallen's use of a racial slur.

She wrote on social media: "We keep them rich and protected at all costs with no recourse."

Then, her infant son received death threats, as did she and other members of her family.

"I didn't realize I had lit the fuse," she said. "I underestimated …  the power of the town and also kind of every broken thing about it and how it protects itself no matter what."

She continued to explain that she could never have anticipated the vitriol she received for condemning a racial slur.

"It felt like a warning shot," she said.

But that didn't stop her from speaking her mind when marginalized members of society were ignored or attacked.  

Last year, Jason Aldean's wife, Brittany, said on social media: "I'd really like to thank my parents for not changing my gender when I went through my tomboy phase. I love this girly life."

Morris shot back in the comments section: "It's so easy to, like, not be a scumbag human? Sell your clip-ins and zip it, Insurrection Barbie."

She was again met with backlash. Tucker Carlson called her a "lunatic country music person" on his FOX news show. Morris turned the comment into a t-shirt and sold it for charity. However, she said during the podcast that the stress negatively impacted her health. In addition to damaging her mental health, her hair started falling out.

"I had to make many chops to even be here," she said.

But she didn't mean for her comments to indicate she wanted to leave the genre permanently.

"I felt like I don't want to say goodbye, but I really cannot participate in the really toxic arms of this institution anymore," she said. "I love living in Nashville; I have my family there. There's a reason why people come there from L.A. and N.Y. to write with us because we have amazing songwriters there, so that's not going to change. But I couldn't do this circus anymore of feeling like I have to absorb and explain people's bad behaviors and laugh it off. I just couldn't do that after 2020. I've changed."

She explained that someone saying she left country music as "a little bit hyperbolic" but admits she can't participate in a lot of it.

"I'm OK, kind of just doing my own thing," she said. "Come with me if you please; everyone's welcome."

Morris asked that her music no longer be considered for inclusion on country award shows and transferred from Sony Nashville to New York-based Columbia Records.

"I don't know if it's forever or how I'm feeling in my current state," she said. "I'm not shutting off fans of country music. It's just the music industry I have to walk away from."

Morris is currently working on her new album with celebrity producer Jack Antonoff, who is most known for making pop records. However, Morris said her new E.P. "The Bridge" is among the most country lyrical songwriting she's done. She said it was "so cathartic."

"In pop, nine songs out of 10 are women. The little girls growing up and maybe someday wanting to be a songwriter or a singer they are looking at pop right now. In country, what standard are we setting? What are we teaching them? That they aren't welcome. I felt like this 10 years ago. Who am I writing for? I really wasn't trying to be negative. I just had to do this to sleep at night and, be a good mom and set a good example for my fellow songwriters and employees. I felt like these songs are a good stepping stone to whatever is next."

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