Maren Morris: I Needed Break From 'Toxic' World of Country

In 'NYT' podcast, singer expands upon decision to take hiatus from Nashville scene
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 5, 2023 10:26 AM CDT

Maren Morris announced last month she was stepping away from the country scene for a bit, but the singer-songwriter is now emphasizing that it's not necessarily a permanent or complete split. "It's a little bit hyberbolic to be like, 'She's left country music,' because that's ridiculous," the 33-year-old says in a new chat on the New York Times' Popcast podcast. "But I certainly can't participate in a lot of it. I'm OK kind of just ... doing my own thing." As part of her self-imposed hiatus, Morris says she won't submit her tunes for country music awards consideration, and she's ditching Sony Music Nashville as her record label for Columbia Records, which is headquartered in New York.

"I don't want to say goodbye, but I really cannot participate in the really toxic arms of this institution anymore," Morris elaborates. "I love living in Nashville, I have my family there. ... There's a reason why people come there from LA and New York to write with us, because we have amazing songwriters there." But, she adds, per People: "I couldn't do this ... circus anymore—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. A lot of things changed about me that year."

Billboard notes how Morris' feelings deepened after the pandemic and movements like Black Lives Matter, but she says she saw the "writing on the wall" almost as soon as she broke onto the country scene in 2016. She notes there was always an insinuation of "you don't belong here, this is not like Dolly [Parton]," and that her critique on the industry's failures to address sexism and racism in the genre got taken as an overarching attack. "[You feel like they're saying], 'Not only are you criticizing our way of life,' which I'm not, 'you're criticizing every fundamental belief we have, you're criticizing Jesus, you're criticizing blue-collar workers, you're criticizing farmers,'" she says.

story continues below

Morris adds: "They will go to these lengths to justify the abuse and discrepancies that exist within the machine of what this is." She says she saw that firsthand when she spoke out on fellow star Morgan Wallen's use of a racial slur in 2021 and received death threats. "I've just had to kind of find my own patch of grass with all of it," she says. As for what she's doing next, Morris isn't spelling out all the details, but she hopes her fans are all in. "Come with me if you please; everyone's welcome," she says. Watch the podcast here. (More Maren Morris stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.