After a busy few weeks that saw her set new streaming records for a female country artist and rack up CMT Music Award nominations, Maren Morris looks back on her rise to stardom with the help of Busbee and Miranda Lambert in a new Featured Artist Stories episode from YouTube.
The 15-minute mini-documentary features personal videos from Morris’s childhood in Texas, including footage of her performing at Johnny High’s Country Music Revue in Arlington. Other collaborators like Zedd and her husband, Ryan Hurd, bring their own point of view. Here are five takeaways from the profile:
Dolly Parton is one of Morris’s greatest models.
The story of Morris’ decision to become a Nashville songwriter has been told countless times, but here it highlights the influence of another pioneer in the country. “I wanted to be a songwriter like Dolly Parton,” she says. “I reflected a lot of my choices in what she did. I think about how she handled everything with so much courage and grace in a world full of men. I can identify him with that. “
Morris and Hurd both knew “My Church” would be a success.
“My Church” wasn’t just Morris’ groundbreaking hit, it was the song that convinced her to start playing again on her own. “It was the first time as a songwriter that I was territorial about a song I wrote,” she says. Hurd, only then a friend and collaborator, didn’t have to say much to support him the first time she played it for him. “The song ended and he didn’t say anything. He just says ‘Play it again’.
Crossovers like “The Middle” are his way of promoting his “version of country music”.
Morris sees songs like his Zedd and Gray collaboration “The Middle” as a good way to expand the country brand. “If I were to put my gender on the map and people would listen to ‘The Middle’ and they’re like, ‘Who is this Maren Morris chick? I want to see what she’s doing. And then they’re going to listen to ‘My Church’ and they’re like ‘Oh wait, who is this other artist that she’s been touring with?’ And they’re going to listen to Sam Hunt, or whatever. It’s about opening up the platform for our gender, ”she says.
Wider conversations about gender, race, and equality in country music allowed Morris to be a more active commentator.
“Good art is scary, you have to take risks, and it changes culture,” Morris says. “I’m just thinking about the oppression it took for people to really start to open up. This point of view is so desperately needed to be heard. It makes me feel like I want to be better, put on more courageous music, say more courageous things, wear more courageous things. Screw. It’s time to put our money where our mouth is and not just talk about the lack of representation. “
Girl was Morris’s way of expressing his femininity more courageously.
“Seeing the wave of support that women were starting to have for each other, it’s really powerful – as a woman, as a human being, as a songwriter. I think I make the most honest music of my career, ”she says of her second album. She adds that the title song video is “one of the [her] proudest works to date. “It ended up being, how many different faces of women could we show?” she says.