Maren Morris Accepts Variety’s 2023 Changemaker Award

Maren Morris is giving credit where credit is due.

The singer-songwriter, 33, was honored with the Changemaker of the Year award at Variety’s Hitmakers Brunch in Los Angeles on Saturday — and used her acceptance speech to applaud the “brave” female artists who inspire her.

After she was introduced by pop singer Maggie Rogers, Morris — who frequently uses her platform to condemn transphobia, homophobia and other forms of discrimination — said she was “overwhelmed” to receive the award.

“The Middle” singer went on to acknowledge that the success she has had in achieving her “childhood dream” of being a country singer is bittersweet given the current state of the industry.

Morris said she “was achieving success in [a system that] was deeply fractured and above all centered — get this — on men over any other sort of human being making comparable or oftentimes better music.”

Maren Morris was introduced by pop singer Maggie Rogers at Variety’s 2023 Hitmakers Brunch.

David Livingston/WireImage

“I realized very quickly that publicly pointing out these inequalities doesn’t make you the most popular,” said Morris, who made headlines last year for calling out Brittany Kerr Aldean for a transphobic comment. “If you dare criticize blatant misogyny, racism, transphobia within the ranks of your industry, you’re met with isolation, death threats, labeled as ungrateful, biting the hand that fed you or diminishingly told to just shut up and sing.”

In the “moments of backlash” she experienced as a result, Morris said she “found solace in the stories of my musical heroines,” including Taylor Swift, The Chicks, Sinead O’Connor and Billie Holiday.

Swift, for “taking back ownership of her life’s work,” The Chicks for “criticizing a sitting United States president on invading Iraq at the height of their country music career,” O’Connor for “shining a light on the abuses of the Catholic Church” and Holiday for “continuing to perform ‘Strange Fruit’ in protest, even with a racially targeted FBI investigation threatening her,” Morris explained.

“They were all told not to bite the hand. They were all told to shut up and sing,” she said. “Now, I would never be silly enough to compare myself or my story to these women, but I have found deep inspiration in their courage in my moments of loneliness.”

These “brave” women taught Morris that “you have to be a giant pain in the a– to make any kind of change, because you’re criticizing and trying to dismantle a status quo and making comfortable people feel uncomfortable,” she said.

Maren Morris at Variety’s 2023 Hitmakers Brunch.

David Livingston/WireImage

The “Chasing After You” singer also acknowledged her recent decision to take a hiatus from country music to “figure out why I love making music again” — a “journey” she is “still in the throes” of.

“I love making music and you don’t fight for what you don’t love,” Morris said. “So the only change I’ve made that I feel I can take any credit for is the one within myself, and if that has in any way reverberated outward and meaningfully affected somebody, then I’m privileged and relieved that it’s done.”

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At the star-studded L.A. event, the “My Church” singer spoke with Entertainment Tonight about when she will be releasing her next project.

“There’s a lot of personal stuff right now I’m wading through, processing, writing through,” Morris — who filed for divorce from Ryan Hurd in October — told ET.

“So, yeah, I’m giving myself the time to do that and not having to rush a very, huge personal thing through an album being delivered,” she said. “It’s going to take a little bit longer than I had hoped, but I have to trust the process.”

The newly single singer also told the outlet that she is looking forward to a “really empowering 2024” — and steering clear of the dating pool for a bit.

When asked if she is both single and ready to mingle, Morris told ET, “I mean, not mingle. But yeah, we’ll see.”

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