Maren Morris is taking “a step back” from country music after years of advocating for marginalized voices from inside the industry. “I thought I’d like to burn it to the ground and start over,” Morris told The Los Angeles Times in a candid new interview. “But it’s burning itself down without my help.”
For starters, the 33-year-old Grammy-winner will now release music through Columbia Records instead of their Nashville branch. “Obviously, being one of the few women that had any success on country radio, everything you do is looked at under a microscope,” Morris explained. “You’re scrutinized more than your male peers, even when you’re doing well. So I’ve had to clear all of that out of my head this year and just write songs. A lot of the drama within the community, I’ve chosen to step outside out of it.”
Morris says she became disillusioned with the industry after Donald Trump’s presidency. “After the Trump years, people’s biases were on full display,” she said. “It just revealed who people really were and that they were proud to be misogynistic and racist and homophobic and transphobic. All these things were being celebrated, and it was weirdly dovetailing with this hyper-masculine branch of country music. I call it butt rock.”
Most recently, Morris took aim at Jason Aldean’s controversial song, “Try That in a Small Town,” just a year after calling out his wife, Brittany Aldean, for transphobic comments in 2022. Morris argues the song’s popularity is more about identity politics than music. “People are streaming these songs out of spite,” she told the LA Times. It’s not out of true joy or love of the music. It’s to own the libs. And that’s so not what music is intended for. Music is supposed to be the voice of the oppressed—the actual oppressed. And now it’s being used as this really toxic weapon in culture wars.
When asked if this “feud” with Aldean led her to change paths, she responded, “I’ve always been an asker of questions and a status quo challenger just by being a woman. So it wasn’t really even a choice.” She continued, “I didn’t think of myself as a political artist. I just wrote songs about real life through a lens of deep respect for my country heroes. But the further you get into the country music business, that’s when you start to see the cracks. And once you see it, you can’t un-see it. So you start doing everything you can with the little power you have to make things better.”