Country music women are offered two possible paths, explains Maren Morris.
"The stereotype is that you must be religious, virginal conservative or the injured woman who burns the house."
But Morris, who grew up listening to Chaka Khan and Beyoncé as much as Shania Twain and Dolly Parton, has none.
"People of pop and R & B are confident, sexy and sexual, and they celebrate it – so why not write those songs in the country?"
Instead of just asking the question, she provides the answer – on a new album full of moments past, inspired by her marriage to fellow musician Ryan Hurd.
There it is, a slim tinged R & B tale that owes much to the TLC, and is in the love ballad, inspired by the "drunken voice messages" she would leave for her husband while on tour. .
"It's just a very fun and sexy song about wanting to blow someone's bones," she laughs. "Real-life tricks!"
For those who are accustomed to the carnal abandonment of Rihanna or Janet Jackson, these are rather docile things. But Morris stands out in a genre that has strangely resisted (some might say predictably) progressive feminist lyrics. Or simply women in general.
, female artists accounted for only 11.3 percent of the music broadcast on American country radio last year, compared to 33.3 percent in 2000. Even Kacey Musgraves, whose triumphant and melodious Golden Hour won the Grammy, was deprived of radio , apparently because his lyrics cover topics such as casual sex, drug use, toxic masculinity and gay acceptance.
"As a woman in this industry, I want the radio to start in this century and honor songs that are really popular," says Morris – who deliberately named her second album, GIRL, for "pushing buttons" in the country notoriously. conservative of the country. .
"I was watching the radio map of the country in the United States and, for the first time in 20 years, no woman was in the top 30," she says.
"So I took a closer look at all the types and titles of her songs, and the word" girl "was used in more songs than there were girls on the chart.
"So, I thought," I'm going to name this album, Girl; and (the song) Girl is going to be my first single. "Just to put a middle finger at the height of that statistic.
"And, ironically, in the United States, on the map of the country, Girl was my fastest single."
The star was encouraged during the recording of her album by the success of The Middle, a sensational success that she recorded with the Russian DJ and producer Zedd, who spent five weeks in the top 10, won double platinum in the United States and won three nominations to the Grammy.
"It has become much more important than we supposed or planned," says Morris – one of the 12 singers considered for the song (she beat bigger names like Anne-Marie and Camilla Cabello to get the post).
The success of the song, combined with a support slot for One Direction star Niall Horan, opened the singer's eyes to new possibilities.
"I went to South America on this tour for the first time and it was really amazing to see thousands of Chileans know the words of The Middle.
"It's really what really brought me where I want to take my music from now on. The world is so vast and there are so many places I want to go."
These South American shows confirmed something she instinctively knew at the beginning of her recording career in 2015.
"Many country artists feel really comfortable going to the United States," she says, "because it's hard if you're already successful in coming to Europe and having the same production, or attracting so many fans. even before signing my contract with the label, I told them, "I want a presence in the UK, and I want it now."
The decision paid. Last month, Morris achieved a youthful ambition by playing a full section with a string section.
"It sounded like a lucid dream," she tweeted the day after the concert. "I cried when I got back to the hotel."
On stage, she told the British public that she was the first to understand the words of her group, My Church (Hank Williams on the road radio ripping off Hank Williams on the car radio) and presenting The Middle as the song that life last year " .
During the recall, Morris sprayed bubbles filled with cotton candy in the audience ("we're really extras for this tour"). In the United States, it also augments the show with a scented rain forest smoke, but that was not available for its dates in the UK.
"I did not know we could have a scented haze before my production manager mentioned it," she says. "I thought," What are my options? "And there was, like, a ton"
"Well, there was gas and a charred corpse, I think the company is also selling its fog for firefighter training," she says with a laugh. "A fog burned with a corpse smell! It's really a mess!"
"Shut up and sing"
Morris plays all but one of Girl's songs during her performance at the Royal Albert Hall, illustrating the musical scale of the album from the popular rock-rock People to the psychedelic rock of.
This musical turmoil has made her a lightning rod for the debate that country music is becoming "very pop" (whatever that means), but she cleverly talks to her critics in a song called "I prepare my own taste / Even if it is not your style / You only see one layer / The original may take a while."
The song also quotes the phrase "shut up and sing," which was a regular feature of the American group Dixie Chicks in the 2000s, after singer Natalie Maines told a British audience: "Just so you know we're ashamed of the president of the United States "States come from Texas".
"I like Dixie Chicks so much," said Morris, "so I put that silly phrase into the song because it gives me a lot of joy just to say," No, hell! "
The 29-year-old victim has been the target of insults more than once, including after asking for gun control after the mass shooting at the Harvest Festival. 91 of Route 91 in 2017.
"Whenever I expressed an opinion, political or social, I was told to" shut up and sing, "said the star." But it's an oxymoron, you can not shut up and Sing, idiot. "
It is a typically salty response from an artist who does not step back or bows to the convention.
"I understand how I am perceived and how I see myself," she says. And if you discourage the country, then it is your loss.
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