Maren Morris was one of the artists who performed during the Route 91 Harvest Festival in 2017, taking the stage one day before gunman Stephen Paddock opened fire from his hotel window onto the festival grounds, killing 58 people and wounding hundreds more. For Morris, that incident became a wake-up call for her, becoming the moment she decided to speak out about gun control.
“I’m from Texas and I’ve grown up around guns, and my whole family was always super safe with them. But as much fun as that was growing up, do I feel particularly safe around guns now? No," Morris told Esquire.
“I don’t think anyone needs to own a semi-automatic or automatic rifle," she remarked. "I mean, the Second Amendment was put in place when it was like, muskets. I don’t think the forefathers were thinking about Route 91 or bump stocks and sh–."
In the wake of Route 91, Morris penned "Dear Hate," which says, "Dear Hate / I saw you on the news today / Like a shock that takes my breath away / You fall like rain, cover us in drops of pain / I'm afraid that we just might drown." The song, which is a collaboration with Vince Gill, was nominated for a Grammy Award, for Best Country Song. But accolades aside, more than a year and a half later, Morris still has trouble performing the song from stage.
“That’s a really hard song for me to sing,” Morris acknowledged. “Even releasing it, there was this sense of PTSD. A lot of artists were terrified to go back on the stage. A lot of fans were terrified to go back into these venues.”
“It’s just — this is supposed to be a safe place,” she continued. “A music venue. A church. A school. It feels like we’re all dealing with perpetual PTSD.”
It is Morris' fans who inspired her to keep going, even when she wanted to hide.
"The only way that I’ve been able to continue touring and having confidence on stage is through conversations [about this] with fans," Morris revealed. "If I am feeling this way, and they’re feeling this way, then we can heal each other. It also lights a fire under my a––. If they went through that and they can still buy a ticket and show up and pay for parking and get in the door, then I can certainly walk out on stage.”
Morris isn't the only artist speaking out about gun control, but even if she was standing alone, she's no longer afraid to speak her mind about a subject she is so passionate about.0comments
“People are getting braver,” Morris maintained. “And I’m glad. As much as people like to say ‘shut up and sing,’ those aren’t the people who move the culture forward. Artists are extremely influential. If you are informed and you pay taxes, you deserve as much of an opinion as anyone else.”
Photo Credit: Getty images/Jeff Kravitz