“It just revealed who people really were and that they were proud to be misogynistic and racist and homophobic and transphobic,” the Grammy-winning singer-songwriter told the Los Angeles Times in an interview published last week. “All these things were being celebrated, and it was weirdly dovetailing with this hyper-masculine branch of country music. I call it butt rock.”
Morris, who has advocated for Black and LGBTQ artists in the genre, said she plans to part ways with the country music industry because of its failure to become more accessible and to tackle its history of racism and misogyny.
The singer has criticized a number of figures in the genre. Last year, she slammed Jason Aldean’s wife, Brittany Aldean, over transphobic remarks, and this year took a jab at the country artist himself over his controversial song “Try That in a Small Town.”
“I thought I’d like to burn it to the ground and start over,” she told the LA Times. “But it’s burning itself down without my help.”
Maren Morris (left) and Alexia Noelle (right) perform at "Love Rising," a benefit concert for the Tennessee Equality Project, Inclusion Tennessee, OUTMemphis and the Tennessee Pride Chamber on March 20 at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.
Morris said she’s felt “very, very distanced” from country music, a genre she grew up with and one that has influenced her songwriting.
“Country music is a business, but it gets sold, particularly to young writers and artists who come up within it, as almost a god. It kind of feels like indoctrination,” she said. “If you truly love this type of music and you start to see problems arise, it needs to be criticized. Anything this popular should be scrutinized if we want to see progress.”
She described Aldean’s song, which has faced backlash and been accused of being “pro-lynching,” as “a last bastion.”
“People are streaming these songs out of spite. 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,” she said. “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.”