Maren Morris has no regrets about calling out Jason and Brittany Aldean on social media — but that doesn't mean she wants to sit next to them at an awards show.
Morris, 32, spoke to the Los Angeles Times about her online feud with the conservative couple over transphobic comments they made, and how it fits into a bigger picture of what country music stands for right now. Morris said she's undecided whether she'll attend the Country Music Awards on Nov. 9 where Humble Quest is nominated for Album of the Year.
"I'm very honored that my record is nominated. But I don't know if I feel [at] home there right now. So many people I love will be in that room, and maybe I'll make a game-time decision and go. But as of right now, I don't feel comfortable going," Morris explained, adding, "I kind of feel peaceful at the notion of not going."
Morris and singer Cassadee Pope sparred with Brittany after an Aug. 23 post that read: "I'd really like to thank my parents for not changing my gender when I went through my tomboy phase. I love this girly life." (Jason commented on the post, "Lmao!! Im glad they didn't too, cause you and I wouldn't have worked out.")
You’d think celebs with beauty brands would see the positives in including LGBTQ+ people in their messaging. But instead here we are, hearing someone compare their “tomboy phase” to someone wanting to transition. Real nice.
— Cassadee Pope (@CassadeePope) August 26, 2022
"The Bones" singer told the Times she didn't run the message by anyone before hitting send.
"I just shot it off. I hate feeling like I need to be the hall monitor of treating people like human beings in country music. It's exhausting," Morris shared. "But there's a very insidious culture of people feeling very comfortable being transphobic and homophobic and racist, and that they can wrap it in a joke and no one will ever call them out for it. It just becomes normal for people to behave like that."
Related video: Maren Morris and Cassadee Pope call out Brittany Aldean over controversial post
The fact Morris dubbed Brittany "Insurrection Barbie" lit up social media, a nickname the singer stands behind.
"Well, it's kind of true, because the whole conspiracy theory peddling of Jan. 6, they totally partook in that," Morris said of the Aldeans. "Look, I'm not a victim in this and neither is she. But I don't have feelings of kindness when it comes to humans being made fun of for questioning their identity, especially kids. The whole 'When they go low, we go high' thing doesn't work with these people. Any resistance movement is not done with kind words. And there's a lot worse things I could've called her."
Morris, who shares a 2-year-old son with husband Ryan Hurd, said she felt the need to reply to Brittany due to "the culture of misinformation that goes along with trans youth."
"This whole thing got so ugly so fast because the worst they can say to me is, 'Oh, you must be a groomer then.' That's literally their favorite word. I have a son, and I think we're all — especially all parents — we're just trying to do our best and take care of our kids and make sure they're happy," Morris continued. "You don't know if one day they're gonna come home in tears because they don't feel right in their body. And it's just so s***ty for the parents that are going through that right now to make a joke out of it. Suicide rates are so high because of hateful bulls*** like that. I don't care if it's a joke. But they don't want to talk about that part because it's too real."
Morris doesn't believe she lost any fans over the ordeal. (Hey, those Tucker Carlson inspired shirts have raised more than $150,000 for Trans Lifeline and GLAAD’s Transgender Media Program.)
"I've been very clear from the get-go. It sucks when artists stay quiet, stay quiet, stay quiet, and then they finally reach their breaking point and have to say something because something is so unjust or disgusting. And then they lose half their crowd because they stayed quiet. I try to tell my husband this, because he’s still building: Let people know where you stand," Morris shared. "The ones who don't get it will fall away, but the ones that stick with you will know what they're contributing to."
Jason, who previously wouldn't talk politics for years, threw that rule out the window. He's a vocal critic of President Joe Biden. Morris said that's "his prerogative."
"And he probably knows, 'OK, I'm gonna lose my liberal fans,' if he had any. But the ones that stay I'm sure feel extremely close to him through all this," Morris noted. "And that's when I kind of have to take a step back and be like, What am I actually doing? Is it self-serving? Is it performative? All the things a neurotic will think through. But I sleep pretty good at night knowing that people feel safer in my crowd."
Morris said friends who aren't in country music ask her, "What the hell is going on in Nashville right now with these people?"
"I'm always like, 'It's fewer than you think.' Sometimes I feel like I'm in this abusive relationship and I keep defending it: 'It's not all bad!' But sometimes you have to call it out for what it is," she said.
"I think there are people in country music that want it to be niche. They don't want it to expand. They don't care about it becoming more inclusive. It's theirs, and everyone else is an other, or woke, or whatever," Morris continued. "That's sad to me, because I feel like country music at its core is people’s real stories. And to think there’s only one kind of person that gets to live them out and celebrate them is not why I’ve chosen to live there or make music within those walls."
Brandi Carlile recently told Morris how it feels like "there are two country musics."
"I don't know, it should have been heartbreaking to hear that. But I was actually really relieved and encouraged to hear it. It made me feel like, OK, country music on this mainstream level absolutely could be two things, and I've been trying to make it one, and maybe I should stop," she said. "I don't know if Brandi meant it to be a positive, but I took it as one. It was like a pressure release."