Grammy-winning musician Maren Morris has announced she is leaving country music due to the bigotry from both artists and industry higher-ups alike.
"It just revealed who people really were and that they were proud to be misogynistic and racist and homophobic and transphobic," she said. "All these things were being celebrated, and it was weirdly dovetailing with this hyper-masculine branch of country music."
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Morris added that advocating for progressive causes "doesn’t make you popular" in the genre. This creates a fear of speaking up, particularly among younger artists, which the singer noted "feels like indoctrination."
Morris continued to say that she resents music being used as a “toxic weapon in culture wars," referencing country artist Jason Aldean, who she has called out in the past for making transphobic comments. She said that while his controversial song "Try That in a Small Town" was successful, it represents a "last bastion" for the industry.
"People are streaming these songs out of spite. 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," she explained. "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."
Morris' new two-track EP The Bridge tackles her complicated emotions over leaving the genre, a decision that she says has brought feelings of both "betrayal" and "hope." Still, the singer notes she doesn't want to have "an adversarial relationship to country music."
"If you truly love this type of music and you start to see problems arise, it needs to be criticized," she said. "Anything this popular should be scrutinized if we want to see progress."