Country superstar Maren Morris on 'Girl: The World Tour,' Lil Nas X, CMA Awards and more
Maren Morris rehearses her new single, "All My Favorite People" to perform at the ACM's Nashville Tennessean
Maren Morris is undoubtedly a superstar in country music. With the release of her sophomore album, "Girl," the Arlington, Texas, native has already shattered the record for the largest debut streaming week for a country album by a woman.
"Girl" earned 23.96 million streams in its first week and debuted at No.4 on the Billboard 200 and No.1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart.
For Midwesterners loving the soulful, energetic tracks on Morris' latest project: Get ready to see them live. Morris is headed to Des Moines on Thursday for a 6 p.m. show at Water Works Park Amphitheater.
Fans can expect "a soulful and different" show, Morris said in an interview with the Register.
"There will be a country element to an energetic number," she said.
Morris released "Girl" on March 8 through Columbia Nashville. She said the album differs from her debut platinum-certified project, "Hero," released June 3, 2016.
"I'm a little bit older; I'm married," Morris said. "I'm approaching my 30s, so it's more worldly views than a selfish view. A lot more love in the second album."
Morris married Ryan Hurd in 2018. Hurd is also a singer-songwriter and was featured in the music video for her hit single "Bones." On why she chose the title "Girl" for her second project, Morris said it followed from disappointment in the lack of representation of women in country music.
"It was reflective of the time of how women don't fit in the same mold as the industry puts us into," she said, "so I chose to name the album 'Girl' due to the criticism."
According to a study done by researchers at the University of Southern California's Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, Morris is right about the gender gap of women in country music. The recent study shows only 16% of country artists across 500 of the top country songs from 2014 to 2018 are women. Only 12% of country songwriters are women. The study also mentions that women who are successful country music artists are young. The average top female artist's age is 29 years old — Morris' age. For men, the average is 42.
Speaking of criticism in country music, Morris spoke briefly about the critiques of Lil Nas X's original hit record, "Old Town Road."
"Honestly, that's country music, storytelling and people relating to a real-life situation," she said. "Lil Nas X got the last laugh because he broke the Billboard chart and outsold every genre combined. The traditional mindset of what is country music is a bitter old tradition," Morris said.
"Old Town Road" spent 17 weeks at No.1 on Billboard's Hot 100 and catapulted Lil Nas X to superstardom. The record now features country music legend Billy Ray Cyrus. Initially, the track received criticism from Billboard, which took the 20-year-old's song off its genre ranking before Cyrus hopped on because it "did not embrace enough elements of today's country music."
Despite the criticism and lack of representation in country music, Morris is still garnering major success. Her title track, "Girl," hit No. 1 on Country Radio. It's the first solo record by a woman to top the Billboard Country Airplay chart since February 2018 and her third No. 1.
This year, Morris received five Grammy nominations and in 2017 won a Grammy Award for Best Country Solo Performance. Also, Morris is leading the Country Music Awards nominee list with six nominations, including Album of the Year, Female Vocalist of the Year, Single of the Year, Song of the Year, Music Video of the Year, and Musical Event of the Year.
"I'm honored," she said. "It makes me feel like my community in Nashville loves what I'm doing there. However the chip falls at the show; I'm going to be celebrating at the after-party."
If you go
When: 6 p.m. on Thursday
Where: Water Works Park Amphitheater, 2201 George Flagg Parkway