Artists on the Grammys 2018 pink carpet inform us how they spent their first large paycheck.
Josmar Taveras

Don’t name Maren Morris a pop singer. 

The Nashville-based singer‘s hit on EDM artist Zedd’s “The Center” raised questions on whether or not she would comply with Taylor Swift’s path from nation darling to pop star. 

Spoiler alert: Morris, in an interview with the USA TODAY NETWORK, repeatedly dispelled the notion, promising not to desert her nation roots. She cherishes the style’s penchant for storytelling. And he or she can’t think about transferring to Los Angeles. 

“I’m not claiming myself a pop star,” Morris mentioned. “(Recording ‘The Center’) was a threat, but it surely was a threat value taking as a result of it paid off. I feel I’m a really rooted nation songwriter who grew up listening to every little thing and … vocally I like singing every little thing.”

Billboard ranked “The Center” because the No. 2 pop tune of 2018, and when Grammy nominations have been introduced, Morris nabbed 5. Two of the singer’s nods are tied to “The Center,” however like her creative loyalty, the opposite three fell in nation music. Morris will study the dimensions of her Grammy haul on Sunday. The Recording Academy’s 61st Grammy Awards will air reside from Los Angeles’ Staples Heart at 7 p.m. on CBS. 

“I really feel like Chris Stapleton should really feel all the time,” Morris quipped in a nod to Stapleton’s behavior of being top-nominated at most nation music awards exhibits. “I really feel actually at house within the record of nominees this 12 months as a result of this record of nominations may be very reflective of the place music is headed. It’s boundary-less, it’s genre-less, it’s feminine.”


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“The Center,” that includes Morris on vocals and EDM artists Zedd and Gray, was virtually born on the 2018 Grammy Awards. The artists partnered with Goal, and the tune’s video debuted through the award present’s telecast. “The Center” was a seven-week No. 1 on Billboard’s Prime 40 Radio chart and spent 5 weeks atop the grownup up to date radio chart. 

On the similar time, Morris’ nation single “Wealthy” was working to search out its method on nation radio. “The Center” loved a sooner rise and broader worldwide success. “Wealthy” topped out at No. 2 on Billboard’s nation airplay charts in November.  
Sony Music Nashville Chairman and CEO Randy Goodman mentioned the cross-genre interaction was all the time a part of Morris’ plan. 

‘Elvis or Johnny?’ 

Goodman remembers assembly Morris in his workplace 3½ years in the past. He boasts that Sony was capable of snag the singer from one other label simply earlier than she inked her deal. Goodman requested her to articulate the imaginative and prescient for Maren Morris. She pointed at a photograph on the wall — one among Elvis Presley with Johnny Money.

“I mentioned, ‘Which man, Elvis or Johnny?’ Both one is sweet,” Goodman mentioned. “She mentioned, ‘Johnny Money. I wish to reside in Nashville. I wish to be rooted in nation music. I wish to be on different codecs when it’s acceptable, and I wish to tour the world.”

Within the second, Goodman mentioned he thought: “Wow, I can play into that.” He simply didn’t understand the genre-jumping would begin so early in her profession. Now Goodman admits that Morris does issues that “utterly unnerve and freak me out.”


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“She would name me and go in a really delicate however agency, understanding voice say, ‘Randy, that is going to work. I really feel actually good about it,’ ” he mentioned. “I might say, ‘OK, right here we go. We’re going to make this work.’ ”

Goodman’s response to “The Center”? 

“You’re sitting there going, ‘Oh my God, will this cannibalize what we’re doing at nation radio?’ ” he admitted. “It was like OK, that is actually, actually early within the profession of a rustic feminine artist that you simply’re making an attempt to ascertain at nation radio. When an artist needs to make a pivot into the pop world in that form of method, that’s breaking the principles.”

Versatility, dedication 

Morris has proven her dedication to the nation format by means of her presence and her music. “The Center” debuted throughout the identical present by which Morris paid tribute to Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting victims with fellow nation stars Eric Church and Brothers Osborne. “Pricey, Hate,” her Grammy-nominated duet with Vince Gill, was launched to nation radio a couple of months prior.

“It confirmed nation radio that I’m not abandoning anybody,” she mentioned. “I’m only a versatile artist, and I feel they knew that from the start anyway.”

It was on the Grammys two years in the past that Morris demonstrated that versatility on entrance of a nationwide viewers, holding her personal in a duet with Alicia Keys in a efficiency that went viral on social media. 

She believes that having her voice showcased in songs in separate genres on the similar time bolstered the listening viewers’s familiarity together with her artwork, which allowed every tune to assist drive the success of its counterpart.


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“You possibly can’t actually plan for these issues,” Morris mentioned. “You simply must take a shot in the dead of night and hope that all of it works out, and by chance it did.”

Beverly Keel, co-founder of Change the Dialog and chair of the recording business division at Center Tennessee State College, mentioned it’s Morris’ independence and crossover attraction that make her one of the vital essential artists in nation music right this moment.

“She is such a beautiful function mannequin,” Keel mentioned. “If she didn’t exist, we’d have to create somebody identical to her. She’s making a few of the finest music that’s on the market, lyrically, sonically. She is bringing followers to nation music. And he or she’s fearless. However each transfer she makes is the fitting transfer. She’s daring, and he or she’s courageous, and he or she’s very supportive of different females.”

Maren Morris is a ‘GIRL’ on hearth  

When Morris launched “GIRL” in January, the self-titled debut single from her extremely anticipated second album, the feminine empowerment anthem set report streaming numbers. With three.three million audio streams, she had the very best debut on Nielsen’s Nation On-Demand Audio Streaming chart by a feminine artist and the very best weekly streams by a feminine nation artist in chart historical past.

Morris co-wrote “GIRL” with Sarah Aarons, who additionally co-wrote “The Center,” and Grammy Award-winning songwriter and producer Greg Kurstin (Adele, Sia), who additionally co-produced the monitor with Morris.

Lyrics embrace: “Drawing your comparisons/ Looking for who’s lesser than/ I don’t wanna put on your crown/ When there’s sufficient to go round.”

“I simply wish to hold taking dangers and rising nearer to my followers and making new followers,” Morris mentioned. “I feel the one method you are able to do that’s by scaring the s–t out of your self, and that’s what this tune does to me. That is going to fail miserably or it’s going to open up a totally new facet of myself and the world that I haven’t been launched to but.”

Morris defined she began writing “GIRL” as an encouragement for others however shortly realized she was writing it to herself. She was making an attempt to encourage herself to see past the well-documented lack of ladies on nation radio proper now and the fixed commiserating and hold her eyes on the long run.

Morris mentioned “GIRL” units the tone for her all-important sophomore album. However like her debut mission “Hero,” nobody tune encapsulates the gathering. She sees the primary half of “GIRL” as a self-reflective continuation of “Hero,” wrapping up unfastened ends from her first album. The second half of the album, she mentioned, is about permitting herself to be beloved by one other. She married fellow nation singer Ryan Hurd in 2018.

“In the event you’re between a rock and a tough place, generally you need to blaze one other path as a result of the arduous place and the rock each suck,” she mentioned. “On this album, I really feel actually fearless. I would like each tune to matter. I wish to inform a narrative. I would like the monitor record to take the listener on a journey, and I really feel prefer it does that.”

As for what occurs subsequent, Goodman mentioned he doesn’t know and could be “silly” to guess.

“What I do know is it is going to be unorthodox, unnerving; it’s going to be thrilling and massive,” he mentioned.

Extra: Country artist Maren Morris announces tour dates, release of empowering new single, ‘Girl’

Extra: Maren Morris: ‘The Grammys stepped up this year’ in recognizing more women


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