At barely twenty, Maren Morris moved to Nashville, leaving behind a resume that boasted three hits on the Texas Music Chart: and while many arrive in town with a dream of their name in lights, resting on the marquees of the biggest and brightest venues, Morris simply wanted to work on her songwriting craft. And it’s not that she didn’t have aspirations as a performer – Morris had actually already logged years doing just that. But being a celebrity wasn’t the goal – spending her days and nights in the writing room, working with as many cowriters as possible and composing hundreds of songs, was. And though she’d only play the occasional local gig at first, she still managed to build an audience based on her sheer talent, honest lyrics and a completely magnetic presence. Small shows led to big opening gigs: for Little Big Town, Sam Hunt, Loretta Lynn and Chris Stapleton.
As a working songwriter she scored cuts quickly, for artists like Tim McGraw and Kelly Clarkson. And she started shaping a community of likeminded friends leading a new charge in the country climate: the Brothers Osborne, Kacey Musgraves, Lucie Silvas. “It feels like a modern-day Chelsea Hotel,” she says of her very close, very talented pals. They became a tight knit circle dead-set on helping each other evolve into unique, game-changing artists.
Along the way, she slowly and carefully started building the bones to her career as a performer again. “It wasn’t a conscious decision to be an artist,” she says. “It was more, am I ready to face my point of view? I would have been happy just being a songwriter, but there was a voice in my head saying, you’ve got to sing these.”
And so she did. Her self-titled EP gives a hint to what her forthcoming major-label debut on Sony Music Nashville will hold: and that’s one of the more inventive and engaging perspectives in country music to come along in years. The charts and critics agree – she entered the Billboard Heatseeker’s chart at number one, has been wracking up millions of spins on Spotify and was named one of Rolling Stone Country‘s Artists You Need to Know. Because few could find themselves drawing fans of both Bruno Mars and Bonnie Raitt, but Morris could – taking them to the special, wildly different world where spirituality comes through the FM dial and the stage is a place both to party and pray.
“The best part has been going off the beaten path,” Morris says. “I love to weed whack, and create something new. That’s when I feel most alive.” Amen to that.