Maren Morris isn’t transitioning into the “pop” music world anytime soon.
“Obviously no — like, that’s hilarious,” Morris, 33, said of the possible pivot to pop stardom in a Tuesday, November 28, interview with Variety honoring her as Changemaker of the Year.
“I’m not getting out of Dodge. I love living in Nashville, and I don’t consider myself an expat of country music,” she continued. “There’s so many amazing people here making music that matters. I’m a piece of this town, and I want to make it better in the same ways I want the music industry to be better.”
Since her rise to stardom, Morris has long advocated for various social issues within the country music industry. She has often rallied for better representation and treatment for the LGBTQ+ community, famously making headlines last year for her public feud with Jason Aldean and his wife, Brittany Aldean, over gender-affirming care for young people. After Tucker Carlson called Morris a “lunatic country music person” for her stance in support of trans people, Morris hit back by selling T-shirts bearing the phrase to benefit GLAAD’s Transgender Media Program and the Trans Lifeline.
“I don’t think of myself as this badass or anything; I just got so sick of being a yes person to get ahead,” she told Variety of her efforts for change. “I’ve been successful, but — I think — at a moral cost. I couldn’t keep doing the same song and dance.”
Morris has also called for better diversity within the genre. In the wake of the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests, Morris recalled accepting an award at the CMA Awards and being shocked by what she saw in the audience.
“I looked around at the crowd and stupidly realized for the first time that there were basically only white people there,” she said. “I wish that I had woken up sooner.”
Now, Morris is distancing herself from the institution of country music. “I thought I’d like to burn it to the ground and start over,” she told the Los Angeles Times in a September interview. “But it’s burning itself down without my help.”
Morris later clarified her “hyperbolic” comments, calling the idea of her exiting country music entirely “ridiculous.”
“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 explained during an October episode of The New York Times’ “Popcast” podcast, revealing that she will no longer be submitting her music to any more country music-based awards shows.
“I don’t know if it’s forever,” she continued. “I’m not shutting off fans of country music, or that’s not my intention. It’s just the music industry that I have to walk away, a few factions from.”
Morris shared that her advocacy has brought immense backlash in recent years. The singer said people have told her, “You don’t belong here,” leading her to see “the writing on the wall” for her future.
“I think when I zoomed out, looking at hard-cold facts … this is getting significantly worse each year for people on the margins, and women in general,” she said during her “Popcast” appearance. “It’s not improved, it’s not even plateaued. It’s gotten worse.”