Maren Morris opened up about her decision to leave country music, and admitted that she’s never felt welcomed by fans of the popular music genre. “I felt like I don’t want to say goodbye, but I really cannot participate in the really toxic arms of this institution anymore,” the 33-year-old singer said on the October 4 episode of The New York Times‘ Popcast podcast.
Maren, who announced her major career shift in September, explained that while she loves living in Nashville with her family, she feels that she can’t move forward as an artist in country music after taking a stand against people like Jason Aldean and his wife, Brittany Aldean, over topics like race and gender.
“I couldn’t do this circus anymore of feeling like I have to absorb and explain people’s bad behaviors and laugh it off,” Maren said. “I just couldn’t do that after 2020. I’ve changed. A lot of things changed about me that year.”
The “Humble Quest” singer continued, “It’s a little bit hyberbolic to be like, ‘She’s left country music,’ because that’s ridiculous, but I certainly can’t participate in a lot of it. I’m OK kind of just doing my own thing. Come with me if you please; everyone’s welcome.” Maren also confirmed that she’s done submitting her music for country music awards consideration after her big decision.
Maren also recalled how she felt out of place in country music after the backlash over her 2016 songs “My Church” and “80 Mercedes,” which “leaned more pop.” Maren explained, “Ironically, it was, ‘She’s not country. Look at the way she dresses. Get the hell out of here.’ Like ‘You don’t belong here, this is not like Dolly [Parton]. All the negativity and that initial backlash, was the writing on the wall for what was to come.”
Maren shocked fans by announcing she’s leaving country music on September 15. “I thought I’d like to burn it to the ground and start over,” she said in an interview with The Los Angeles Times. “But it’s burning itself down without my help.” Maren explained that there’s been “a lot of drama” in the country music world so she wants to pivot her career elsewhere.
The Grammy Award winner confirmed she’s making new music that will be released through Columbia Records instead of the label’s Nashville division. “I feel like my old self back in this space of writing songs I love with people I love,” she said in the LA Times interview. “This is what I used to do when I moved to Nashville 10 years ago.”