Released last week, country star Maren Morris was featured on YouTube Music’s Artist Spotlight. The fifteen-minute video tells the journey of Morris’ rise to fame and country stardom. Directed by Malia James, the mini-documentary combines home movies, massive crowd shots singing back songs to her and intimate moments with the artist and her husband Ryan Hurd.
Ever since she was a child, Morris loved to sing. Her parents drove her all over Texas so she could showcase her voice. She performed at honky tonks, rock clubs and even tried out for numerous talent shows such as American Idol, The Voice, America’s Got Talent, Nashville Star and more but didn’t make it in any of them. She came close to quitting multiple times but it was country legend, Dolly Parton that kept her motivated.
“I wanted to be a songwriter like Dolly Parton,” Morris confesses. “I mirror a lot of my choices off of what’s she’s done. I think about how she’s just handled everything with such grit and grace in a world full of men. I can identify with that.”
At one point in her pursuit to be a songwriter in Nashville she had $150 left in her checking account, “It was like fight or flight,” she explained. It was the owner of her publishing company who told her she was more than a songwriter; she was an artist. “It took a long time for that to sink in because I didn’t want to pursue that again,” Morris admits.
Morris’ gateway song was “My Church”, a song in which the inspiration came from driving around town with the radio on. To her, that felt like church; her church. “What’s your version of spirituality? When do you feel most okay? My version of that is in my car when I feel very alone and whatever song comes on is the perfect song,” Morris explains. “That was the first time as a songwriter I’ve ever been territorial about a song I had written.”
However, the label didn’t love it as much as Morris and her team did; they passed on her twice so Morris’ team decided to release the song independently. The music video surpassed a million views in the first week. “I wasn’t there at the early days for Sheryl Crow or Adele, but it felt like what those people had to feel like when they first heard those artists,” Morris’ producer/friend, Busbee described. “It was in the presence of greatness. She was going to be massive.”
Demi Lovato, Camila Cabello, Anne-Marie, Carly Rae Jepsen, Bebe Rexha, Charli XCX, Elle King and many others recorded demos for Zedd’s hit song “The Middle” before Morris was selected for the final version. The track went on to win Song of the Year at the 2019 iHeartRadio Music Awards.
“She gave it this gritty texture; she really felt what she was singing,” Zedd said about Morris. “And that’s the most important thing. When a singer sings something, I want to be able to believe that and not just feel like somebody’s reading a script.”
“’The Middle’ was such a cataclysm of a musical moment last year,” Morris praises. “It was kind of like the shot heard around the world…It was really amazing to be a part of a song like that.” Morris was in a good place; she was fulfilling her lifelong dreams of becoming a successful artist, gaining confidence and using her platform to express her feelings and opinions on social matters.
Her new album, GIRL showed how brave she really was with tracks like “Girl”, “Common” and “The Bones” that emphasize self-love and remaining calm in stressful situations. “Good art is scary and it’s risk-taking and it changes culture,” she says. With this album, Morris wants to empower not just women, but everyone who is going through a hard time in life by reminding them to stay strong and keep their head held high; everyone goes through rough patches becomes stronger because of them.
“My career, it’s my name, it’s my personality, it’s my music, but I feel so much more responsible for others now than I ever have,” Morris explains to YouTube. “It’s not just about me anymore…and I’m just hoping that whatever I’m doing right now is cool enough to inspire another nine-year-old to be like ‘I’m going to be like Maren Morris one day.”
GIRL is available everywhere you buy or stream music. Fans can catch Morris on September 6th performing at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.