Maren Morris’ “GIRL” Became a Bigger Message Than She Intended

Maren Morris claimed a CMA Award this year for her exceptional album, GIRL. Backstage in the press room, she responded to questions from the media about her accomplishment.

When you were writing GIRL, did you write it with a sense of, “I want this to be about empowerment”?

Not really. “GIRL” was the last song we wrote for the record. But I felt like it tied all the other songs together in a really compelling way. And it moved me to tears when I heard it back after we had recorded it. I wrote so much of this over the last few years on tour, so it was honestly about me falling further into love and figuring myself out as a woman that’s not so much like the newcomer anymore, but that’s becoming more established in this genre and trying to make a space for myself.

I think there’s a lot of push and pull with this record. There was a lot of tension, good tension, making it. It just happened to become this empowering thing with “GIRL” being the title and the first single. It’s become a lot bigger of a message than I think I had originally intended, which is a very happy accident.

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There are so many of us who felt so strongly that this was your year to win Female Vocalist. I know that that’s in your future, but I feel like you’re so strongly tied to the work of GIRL, the album, that you’re probably not disappointed about that. You’re just celebrating the album. Is that right?

Yeah. I mean, I walked away with the award that I really wanted. Kacey’s had a huge year. So, female vocalist, I feel like it should probably be called Female Artist of the Year, like the ACMs have changed it to. It’s not about who’s the best singer. It’s about who’s had the biggest year. I think all of these women in this category have in their own way.

I’m so excited and I kind of blacked out during my speech on stage. But I definitely wanted to make sure that respect was paid to Busbee [her late co-producer]. We’d been nominated for this before a couple of years ago with my album HERO. We didn’t win that year, but we just had the best time going as first-time nominees. And tonight is bittersweet, but more sweet than bitter.

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I think you had a lot to do this year with [bringing] women back to the place in country music they needed to be. Can you talk about the risks you took to help usher in this movement?

I don’t know if it was a risk, but I think the most impactful way to cause change in something that you’re frustrated with, and disappointed with the outcome so far, is… You know, paying women is a good start. So I brought out female openers on my tour and so has Miranda, so has Carrie. Putting them on stage is the most progressive way to get eyes on new artists that you’re a fan of, that you think your fan base would be a fan of. I think that that wasn’t really a risk, but it felt like a really good step forward.

I wrote the song “GIRL” on a really insecure day. I wasn’t trying to be empowering to anyone. I was really just trying to tell myself to get my shit together. And it’s become this empowering song. I feel like it’s the soundtrack to the year in a really positive way for me. It feels so timely that it won tonight, of all nights, where the theme is celebrating these women in country music through the decades to now. So, yeah, I’m happy that some of the risks have paid off.

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You have conquered so much in your professional life. And now in your personal life, you’re about to begin a new chapter as well. Can you talk about the swirl of emotions and impending motherhood?

Yeah, seconds before the curtain lifted and I was gonna do my performance tonight, he [my baby] started kicking and I’ve just started feeling him kicking this week. I got my ultrasound this week and he waved at me and I felt like he was sort of telling me good luck. And so it worked out. He’s my good luck charm.

I look up to so many people in this genre that haven’t had to choose between starting a family and also kicking ass at their career. Carrie is one of them. I’ve talked to Hillary Scott and Lady A, Karen Fairchild and Little Big Town. They all make it work and they make it look easy and normal, which I think is the most beautiful thing you can give to a kid on the road. I’ve seen their kids backstage riding tricycles and they have their own catering table with kids food. It becomes your normal, however you make it. Ryan [Hurd, her husband] and I are scared shitless but we’re excited.

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With all the changes in your life, have you already thought about what you’re going to be putting on this next album? Will it involve some of the changes in your life as you move forward?

I’ve been touring the record all year and I hate writing on the road. I’m just not one of those who can do it. So I haven’t written a ton. … I would assume that when I go into the writing room the next time, I’ll be writing what’s on my heart. Who knows? This little guy might be a big source of inspiration. I guess in a year I could probably answer this question better.

But I feel like I had to write the day that I found out I was pregnant. And I will say, I was writing with the Love Junkies and they were the first people I told after I told Ryan, and they were so excited. They’re all mothers. We wrote a little song to commemorate the news. I don’t know, it might end up on the new record. Who knows? Thank you, guys. Y’all go get drunk, okay?