Country music star Maren Morris is pushing back against critics telling her to stick to singing amid her defense of the LGBTQ community.
“I have heard the term ‘Shut up and sing’ more times than I can count — that’s always the cutesy little threat that they like to make,” the “My Church” songstress said in an interview with Billboard magazine published Wednesday.
The June 10 issue, released to coincide with Pride Month, features a conversation between Morris and drag stars Landon Cider, Sasha Colby, Symone and Eureka O’Hara.
“Shut Up and Sing: How Elites from Hollywood, Politics and the UN are Subverting America,” was the title of Fox News host Laura Ingraham’s 2003 book. The term was frequently utilized to criticize the country group the Chicks, after the trio famously criticized then-President George W. Bush and the invasion of Iraq during one of their concerts in 2003.
“So I would say to my peers who are artists and to record-label heads, publishers, songwriters: I don’t think any of us got into this art form to be an activist, but that’s ultimately thrust upon you to exist in this space and to feel like you can sleep at night,” Morris said.
“You’re going to lose fans along the way — that is just part and parcel of being public-facing. But there is a lane that you’re widening; I see it year over year at my shows, the crowd feels so diverse and so safe,” the 33-year-old performer and vocal LGBTQ rights advocate added.
“I know everyone likes money, but is it worth your biography saying that you never picked a side because both sides pay money to buy a T-shirt?”
The Grammy Award winner’s remarks were published a day after the Human Rights Campaign officially declared a state of emergency for LGBTQ people in the United States. The group cited at least 525 anti-LGBTQ bills that were introduced this year in more than 40 states.
“I’m from Texas, I live in Tennessee, and I do love the community I have there, but these bills almost incentivize us to turn on one another,” Morris said of anti-LGBTQ legislation.
“They’re rewarding us to turn each other in, which feels kind of like a Nazi Germany thing where we turn on our own communities,” she said.
The entertainer also defended drag performances, which has faced increasing restrictions in some states. Last week, a federal judge ruled that a Tennessee law banning drag shows in public or in places where children could view them in unconstitutional due to freedom of speech protections.
“There is not a ‘one size fits all’ conveyor belt of parenting; everyone has a different thing. Saying that this is all ‘adult’ — some drag is, absolutely!” Morris said.
“But I’ve seen the ‘Mrs. Doubtfire’ reference made a lot, where it’s hilarious if it’s a cis [straight] male in drag,” Morris said of the 1993 comedy starring Robin Williams, who dresses as a female nanny in order to reconnect with his children during a custody battle.
“Then it’s OK for the kids to see,” Morris said, “but God forbid you see someone truly expressing themselves, entertaining and just being free.”