Maren Morris Makes Huge Career Change Amid 'Toxic Drama'

Morris says she feels "very, very distanced" from country music.

Maren Morris is moving on from country music. Morris, 33, is one of the most prominent advocates of more inclusiveness in the genre, of which singers who are white, male, and heterosexual historically dominate. However, she told the Los Angeles Times in a Sept. 15 interview published on Friday, "But the stories going on within country music right now, I've tried to avoid a lot of it at all costs," she explained, acknowledging that her success was also attributed to the status quo. "I feel very, very distanced from it." "I thought I'd like to burn it to the ground and start over," Morris said. "But it's burning itself down without my help."

In the new songs "The Tree" and "Get the Hell Out of Here," both of which were released on Friday as part of an EP titled The Bridge, she discusses her choice to leave country music behind. "If you truly love this type of music and you start to see problems arise, it needs to be criticized. Anything this popular should be scrutinized if we want to see progress," she said. "But I've kind of said everything I can say."

The country singer has been a passionate advocate for LGBTQ+ issues throughout her career, most recently tussling with Jason Aldean and his wife, Brittany Aldean, over the issue of gender-affirming care for young people. An interview between Tucker Carlson and Brittany, 36, culminated in Morris calling Carlson a "lunatic country music person." This phrase was later used on T-shirts Morris sold to raise money for GLAAD's transgender media program and Trans Lifeline.

Morris' fans have speculated that the new video for "The Tree" references Jason's controversial song "Try That in a Small Town," a song that has attracted criticism for promoting violence. As a clip shows her leaving a small town, signs read "Don't Tread on Me" and "Go Woke Go Broke." "Try That in a Small Town" recently made its way to the top of the Billboard charts, but Morris doesn't believe it's a true hit.

"People are streaming these songs out of spite," she said. "It's not out of true joy or love of the music. It's to own the libs. And that's so not what music is intended for. Music is supposed to be the voice of the oppressed — the actual oppressed. And now it's being used as this really toxic weapon in culture wars."

The singer is currently working on a new album with famed producer Jack Antonoff, who has previously worked with Taylor Swift, Lana Del Rey, Lorde, St. Vincent, and The Chicks, among others. She didn't specify whether this means the music she's writing will be more pop-oriented. But, she expressed her excitement about having "freedom" now that she doesn't have to conform to country radio's established expectations. "I'm still writing, so the record's not done. But there's a lot of things going on musically in it — quirky jam-band moments to, like, prog rock," she said. "It's so fun, and I feel like my old self back in this space of writing songs I love with people I love."