Maren Morris clarifies why she had to remove herself from the “toxic arms” of country music

Morris, who found fame and acclaim in the Nashville scene, will no longer submit her work for country music award consideration

Maren Morris clarifies why she had to remove herself from the “toxic arms” of country music
Maren Morris Photo: Catherine Powell

Country music blew up in a big way this summer, with songs like Morgan Wallen’s “Last Night,” Luke Combs’ “Fast Car,” Oliver Anthony’s political hot rod “Rich Men North Of Richmond,” and Jason Aldean’s bigoted “Try That In A Small Town” consistently sitting atop the Billboard Hot 100. For some in the scene, though, this genre ascendence isn’t exactly something to celebrate.

Maren Morris, an undeniably liberal artist who has repeatedly clashed with Aldean and his wife over trans rights and other issues, is one such figure. Last month, she announced her departure from the genre in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. “I’ve kind of said everything I can say,” she commented at the time. “I always thought I’d have to do middle fingers in the air jumping out of an airplane, but I’m trying to mature here and realize I can just walk away from the parts of this that no longer make me happy.”

Morris elaborated on her decision to step away in a recent episode of the New York Times “Popcast,” which she clarified specifically meant that she’d no longer allow her music to be submitted for country radio or award show consideration. “I’m not shutting off fans of country music, or that’s not my intention,” she noted. “It’s just the music industry that I have to walk away from.”

“I don’t want to say goodbye, but I really can’t participate in the really toxic arms of this institution anymore,” Morris said, specifying that there were always people protective of the genre’s traditions that had tried to push her out over her political perspective and poppier sound. “I couldn’t do this circus anymore of feeling like I have to absorb and explain people’s bad behaviors and laugh it off,” she continued. “I just couldn’t do that after 2020 particularly. I’ve changed. A lot of things changed about me.”

As to the rise of prejudiced, threatening, and generally bad music like Aldean’s, Morris is trying to stay optimistic about what it means for the future. “Having the conversation (about prejudice in country music) at all, even if we take two steps back, one step forward and we do this dance for years… it does feel like the flame is getting hotter so maybe it’s, like, this last stand for hatefulness,” she said.

“It’s cool for me to see country artists starting to tour more overseas,” Morris continued. “It is encouraging because it feels like the music is translating to a world level, which means it’s evolving, I would hope for the better. It’s becoming worldly music much like pop is, so that feels like a step in the right direction.”

You can watch the full interview below:

Maren Morris on Her Country Music Future: ‘I couldn’t do this circus anymore’ | Popcast (Deluxe)

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