Grammy Award-winning country singer Maren Morris is once again doing the lord’s work—that is, anti-sexism, anti-racism, and anti-transphobia work—by calling out the dominant, dogshit political ideologies in the country music industry.
In a new interview with the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday, while promoting her ongoing Southern California tour and Country Music Award-nominated album Humble Quest, Morris discussed “Insurrection Barbie,” Candace Owens, and the “two country musics.” And also admitted she’s thinking about skipping the industry’s biggest night:
“Honestly, I haven’t decided if I’m gonna go. I’m very honored that my record is nominated. But I don’t know if I feel [at] home there right now. So many people I love will be in that room, and maybe I’ll make a game-time decision and go. But as of right now, I don’t feel comfortable going…I think I was more sad going last year. Some nights are fun. Others I’m just crawling out of my skin.”
Her comments come after a particularly divisive dustup with Brittany and Jason Aldean. In August, Aldean posted a video of herself applying makeup and wrote, “I’d really like to thank my parents for not changing my gender when I went through my tomboy phase. I love this girly life.” Her husband Jason, a public anti-vaxxer and unfortunately renowned country artist, commented on the post, “Lmao!! Im glad they didn’t too, cause you and I wouldn’t have worked out.” (Aldean has since claimed her words were taken out of context.)
In reply to fellow county artist Cassadee Pope’s comment on the video, Maren called Brittany “Insurrection Barbie.” Afterward, the Aldeans took their anti-trans-kids tirade to Fox News where, during an interview, Tucker Carlson called Morris a “lunatic country music person.” Morris made shirts out of the incident and donated more than $150,000 in proceeds to Trans Lifeline and GLAAD’s Transgender Media Program.
“I hate feeling like I need to be the hall monitor of treating people like human beings in country music. It’s exhausting,” she said. “But there’s a very insidious culture of people feeling very comfortable being transphobic and homophobic and racist, and that they can wrap it in a joke and no one will ever call them out for it. It just becomes normal for people to behave like that.”
The country music industry has always worn its conservative colors on its sleeve. They reward the efforts of male artists largely singing about objectifying women in cowboy boots and daisy dukes yet do nothing when groups like The Chicks get canceled for criticizing a president. As a whole, Nashville has been unkind and unbothered by its treatment of women, queer people, and people of color, but with the Trump presidency and the mainstreaming of fringe ideologies, the genre only continues to dig itself a deeper hole. Maren calls the industry “irreparable, almost.”
But women like Morris, Pope, Kacey Musgraves, Brandi Carlile, and other artists are fighting for equality—and, in this case, for trans kids— and trying to change the genre from the inside out. “The whole ‘When they go low, we go high’ thing doesn’t work with these people. Any resistance movement is not done with kind words. And there’s a lot worse things I could’ve called her,” Morris said. “I sleep pretty good at night knowing that people feel safer in my crowd.”