Maren Morris announces she's leaving country music after years of being outspoken about her progressive beliefs: 'It's burning itself down without my help'
Maren Morrisreleased her new two-song EP (extended play), The Bridge, on Friday; both of which contain lyrics that explain her decision to leave country music behind.
'I thought I'd like to burn it to the ground and start over,' Morris, 33, said of her country music roots during the conversation. 'But it's burning itself down without my help.'
The Arlington, Texas native, who has called Nashville her home for about a decade, has taken a stand over the years, calling for more diversity within the musical genre to go beyond the white male heterosexual artists that have dominated the industry.
'But the stories going on within country music right now, I've tried to avoid a lot of it at all costs,' she explained, before admitting that she, herself, has benefitted from dominant system in place. 'I feel very, very distanced from it.'
She's done! Maren Morris, 33, announced she's moving on from the country music genre, while out promoting her new two-song EP The Bridge; she's pictured in May 2023
In another example of just how serious she is about leaving the genre and its politics, the Look At Us Now star's new music is now being released through Columbia Records, instead of the label's Nashville division, Columbia Nashville.
Her two new songs - The Tree and Get The Hell Out Of Here, which were written back-to-back, mark the start of this new professional chapter for Morris that she has decided to call The Bridge.
'If you truly love this type of music and you start to see problems arise, it needs to be criticized,' she said. Anything this popular should be scrutinized if we want to see progress. But I've kind of said everything I can say.'
Outspoken about her progressive beliefs, Morris has long been a supporter of LGBTQ+ issues and the Black Lives Matter movement, while critiquing people like Jason Aldean's wife Brittany Kerr Aldean for making transphobic comments.
'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,' Morris said. '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.'
Morris has also questioned what's behind the popularity of songs like Aldean's hit single, Try That In A Small Town, which has been interpreted by some people as having a pro-violent, conservative message.
'People are streaming these songs out of spite,' she said. 'It's not out of true joy or love of the music. It's to own the libs [liberals]. 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.'
You could make a case that Morris' new music video for The Tree makes references to Aldean's Try That In A Small Town. The clip shows her walking out of a small town past signs that read 'Don't Tread on Me' and 'Go Woke Go Broke.'
Morris makeover: Morris' new EP The Bridge can be interpreted as being the bridge to her new studio album, which she is still currently working on with prolific pop producer Jack Antonoff
Morris' The Bridge EP can also be interpreted as being the bridge to her next studio album, which she is currently working on with prolific pop producer Jack Antonoff, who's best known for his work with Taylor Swift, as well as Lorde, Lana Del Rey, St. Vincent, The Chicks, Florence And The Machine and The 1975, among others.
So far, Morris has not yet revealed whether the new songs will undergo a massive transformation towards a slick pop music sound.
Either way, the mother of one, whom she shares with husband and country singer Ryan Hurd, has had to take a long hard look at how she crafts her songs.
'The way I grew up was so wrapped in country music, and the way I write songs is very lyrically structured in the Nashville way of doing things,' she confessed. 'But I think I needed to purposely focus on just making good music and not so much on how we'll market it. The last few records, that’s always been in the back of my mind: Will this work in the country music universe?'
Country critique: '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,' the Arlington, Texas native said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times
Morris went on to reveal that the new album is not done yet, and that she still has a bit more writing and recording to do.
'It’s so fun,' she said of the creating process, before adding, 'And I feel like my old self back in this space of writing songs I love with people I love.'
During her career in country music, Morris has released three studio albums: Hero (2016), Girl (2019) and Humble Quest (2022).
She has scored three number one songs on the Billboard Country Airplay chart and eight top ten songs on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.
Morris has won multiple accolades including one Grammy award, five Academy of Country Music Awards, one American Music award and five Country Music Association Awards.