Maren Morris Says Country Music Is Slowly ‘Stepping Up’ on Diversity

"I don't care if someone on TikTok thinks I suck," said the outspoken star.

Written by Chris Parton
Maren Morris Says Country Music Is Slowly ‘Stepping Up’ on Diversity
Maren Morris and Elle DeGeneres; Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

For the past year or so, country star Maren Morris has been a vocal proponent for change in the genre, advocating for more diversity as America grapples with racial injustice everywhere. And while appearing on The Ellen DeGeneres Show Thursday (March 11), she said some progress is being made.

After noting that Morris had just passed 1 billion streams on Spotify, show host Ellen Degeneres went on to congratulate the star for her courage in speaking up — both for female and black voice in country music. And in explaining her commitment to calling out inequality where she sees it, the Texas native said she’s hopeful for more diversity in the genre … and that she doesn’t mind the haters one bit.

“I’m a white woman in country music, and I already sort of have this leg up,” Morris told her host. “Even though there is a huge disparity between men and women in our genre, there is even more of a disparity between white women and black women trying to be in country music. And there are so many black women, and men, who adore country music and don’t feel like the door is open to them even a crack. So yeah, I’ve just been doing so much of my own homework the last couple of years, and especially since George Floyd, I just feel like country music as a genre, we all have so much room to grow, myself included. But I think country music is stepping up to the plate, slowly but surely.”

Artists like Mickey Guyton have earned more attention in the past year — including nominations and a co-hosting gig at the next ACM Awards, a Grammy performance and more — while others such as Jimmie Allen continue to stay in the conversation, and newcomers like Brittney Spencer and Lathan Warlick see more interest. But the number of black voices are still relatively small, so Morris will keep doing what she can to highlight them. And she doesn’t care if it bothers some people.

“You’re always gonna have people that want to come for you if you say something that’s unpopular to them or their group think,” she said. “But for me it’s just like ‘You know what? I have to think about my son, and the people in my circle going forward — who I write with, who I employ — and think am I making room for everybody?’ I don’t care if someone on TikTok thinks I suck. That’s not really my issue. I just want to exist in a genre that is working to be better.”

The singer also went on to speak about her admiration for Brothers Osborne singer TJ Osborne, who recently came out as a gay man, and chatted with DeGeneres about marking her son Hayes’ first birthday.

Meanwhile, the country hit maker will be in an interesting situation at this weekend’s Grammy Awards ceremony — since she up against herself in the Best Country Song category. One nod stems from her work as a songwriter on “The Bones,” and the other from her side gig as a member of the all-female supergroup, The Highwomen, on their track “Crowded Table.” She’s also reportedly taking the stage to perform with John Mayer.

The 63rd annual Grammy Awards air live March 14 on CBS at 8 p.m. ET., and Maren Morris will take the stage to perform alongside John Mayer.