Long before Maren Morris knew she would be one of the most famous female singers in country music, she was a teenager in Arlington, Texas, listening to music by some of her favorite artists, including Sheryl Crow. While Morris was exposed to all kinds of music, from Led Zeppelin to Pink Floyd to Fleetwood Mac, it was Crow's voice that Morris held on to, and that, years later, inspired Morris to be part of the collaborative The Highwomen group.
"She’s such a lovely, calm presence and has so much wisdom," Morris told Rolling Stone. "There wouldn’t be The Highwomen without Sheryl Crow. Her music was so impactful in the '90s, when there weren’t a ton of female voices that were writers and musicians and were saying something that mattered. And the beauty for me was that she didn’t have to choose between artistic integrity and being commercially viable and catchy."
Morris was – and is – a big fan of the Dixie Chicks as well. Although a young teenager, Morris was old enough to know, when country music banned their music after lead singer Natalie Maines made a disparaging remark about President George W. Bush, that something seemed amiss.
"I remember not fully grasping what it meant," Morris recalled. "But even at 13 or 14, I knew it was really gross that people were running over their CDs and making bonfires of them. It just didn’t feel right. It was completely unfair treatment of a group of women just voicing an opinion, like any dude has in the history of time. They just happened to be in a genre where it’s not cool to ever air that opinion."
By the time Morris moved to Nashville, she had dreams of writing songs, but never of singing them. It wasn't until much later that she realized there was a performer still inside of her.
"My only experience of touring was in Texas at bars, where I was background music for people getting hammered," said the singer. "That was the only context I had for being an artist onstage. So when I moved to Nashville, I was like, 'The Texas circuit was enough for me, so I’m going to be behind the scenes and hopefully write great songs for major artists.' And it wasn’t until a few years and clocking a few hundred songs that I realized I did miss being the voice."
Photo Credit: Getty images / Jeff Kravitz
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