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Exclusive Interview with Maren Morris

Songwriter Maren Morris sets her sights on a stage life with her much-anticipated full-length debut.

Written By:  Luke Levenson

Photographers:  Robby Klein

With a soaring voice and a charming stage presence, it might seem as though Maren Morris has always been in the spotlight—but she was, and always will be, a songwriter first. Since the release of her self-titled EP last November, the Dallas-born songstress has taken the reins as one of country radio’s most recognizable voices, scoring regular airplay with sing-alongs like “80s Mercedes” and the Billboard “Hot Country Songs” chart-topping, “My Church.”

>>> Listen to Maren's new album, Hero

 

Before paving her way toward becoming Nashville’s next big star, the 26-year-old was writing songs for the likes of Tim McGraw, Kelly Clarkson, and an episode of ABC’s Nashville. It wasn’t until her publishers pushed her to sing the songs herself that Morris took a trip to Los Angeles and co-wrote the two aforementioned tunes with acclaimed songwriter Mike Busbee.

That’s when she started putting together some ideas for herself as an artist.

“The songs on that EP are really the bones of where this all began,” Morris says. “They kind of took me back into being an artist again. I feel like I needed to have that 'hello to the world' because I come from a songwriting background, and I have a lot to say.”

Morris says it all in her album Hero, set to release June 3 under Columbia Nashville. With eleven powerhouse tracks, her first record on a major label reflects her eclectic taste in music. From the heavy leaded guitar riffs and hip-hoppy melodies, to the poppy admittance of romantic failure in “Just Another Thing,” Morris has practically every musical base covered. Meanwhile, she retains her soulful, outlaw country approach to songwriting, while also infusing a harmonious take on pop-country vocals and instrumentation.

“It’s new music with an old soul,” Morris says. “It’s a combination of a lot of modern influences of mine and what I grew up listening to.”

Morris credits some of her success to her upbringing. The daughter of Arlington, Texas, salon owners, she spent weekends during her teenage years performing at bars around the state.

“I grew up in a music scene with a very defined genre,” she says. “For me to have cut my teeth on that makes me lucky. I never really fit into it, but I had a lot of performance experience under my belt before I even stepped foot in Nashville.”

>>> Top 25 Artists to Watch 2016
 

Three years after her arrival, she has one of the most highly anticipated album releases of the summer, plus an opening gig on Keith Urban’s arena-studded Ripcord tour. 

“It’s crazy because I had such a down schedule as a songwriter,” she says. “Now, everything’s moving at warp speed. I’m getting to travel the world. I’m getting to write with people that I’ve never gotten to write with—and collaborate with them. It’s all sort of like an open window, and I’m excited to climb through it.”

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