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Maren Morris Praises Taylor Swift, The Chicks and More for Not Being Afraid to ‘Bite the Hand’

Maren Morris Praises Taylor Swift, The Chicks and More for Not Being Afraid to ‘Bite the Hand’
Maren Morris Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for iHeartMedia

Maren Morris made a point to thank the women who came before her while accepting Variety’s Changemaker of the Year award.

Morris, 33, said she looked to “brave” musicians including Taylor Swift, The Chicks and Sinéad O’Connor for inspiration when she faced “backlash” from the country music industry for speaking out about LGBTQIA+ rights and other issues.

“They were massive pains in the ass,” Morris said in her speech at the Saturday, December 2 event. “It was then I realized you have to be a giant pain in the ass to make any kind of change, because you’re criticizing and trying to dismantle a status quo and making comfortable people feel uncomfortable.”

Morris praised Swift, 33, for “turning the tables on exploitative businessmen and taking back ownership of her life’s work by rerecording each of her previous albums” and The Chicks for “criticizing a sitting United States president on invading Iraq at the height of their country music career.” She also cited the late O’Connor for “shining a light on the abuses of the Catholic church on Saturday Night Live” and Billie Holiday for “continuing to perform ‘Strange Fruit’ in protest even with a racially targeted, FBI investigation threatening her.”

Maren Morris Praises Taylor Swift, The Chicks and More for Not Being Afraid to ‘Bite the Hand’
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for iHeartMedia

“They were all told to not bite the hand,” Morris continued. “They were all told to shut up and sing. 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.”

Earlier this year, Morris hinted that she plans to take a step back from the mainstream country world after drawing ire for standing up for progressive causes in an often conservative industry. “I thought I’d like to burn it to the ground and start over,” she told the Los Angeles Times in September. “But it’s burning itself down without my help.”

Maren Morris’ Most Critical Quotes About the Country Music Industry: There’s Always ‘Room to Grow’

Related: Maren Morris' Most Critical Quotes About the Country Music Industry

Morris later clarified that she didn’t mean she plans on transitioning completely to pop music anytime soon. “I’m not getting out of Dodge. I love living in Nashville, and I don’t consider myself an expat of country music,” she told Variety last month. “There’s so many amazing people here making music that matters. I’m a piece of this town, and I want to make it better in the same ways I want the music industry to be better.”

Maren Morris Praises Taylor Swift, The Chicks and More for Not Being Afraid to ‘Bite the Hand’
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

In 2022, Morris made headlines when she called out Brittany Aldean, who is married to country superstar Jason Aldean, for sharing seemingly transphobic comments on social media. Brittany, 35, later addressed the situation in an interview with Tucker Carlson, who referred to Morris as a “lunatic country music person.” Morris then began selling T-shirts bearing the phrase, with proceeds benefiting GLAAD’s Transgender Media Program and the Trans Lifeline. She has also since begun calling her fans “the Lunatics.”

Last month, Jason, 46, claimed that he and Morris hadn’t interacted much before her feud with Brittany. “The stuff with her is so far off my radar at this point,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “I’ve never talked to her for more than probably 10 seconds. So, I don’t really have an opinion about her. The only thing I knew was that she was coming after my wife in the media.”

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