Maren Morris sang about loving Hank Williams and Johnny Cash on gospel-infused breakout single “My Church.” She teamed up with EDM stars Zedd and Grey for pop smash “The Middle.” And she flirts with rock, RB and pop on new album “Girl.”
But no matter what she’s singing, you can’t take the Texas out of the girl.
“I sing, and I always have sung, like I’m from Arlington. I’ve always sung with a twang,” Morris says. She performs Thursday at Revention Music Center.
“Even on ‘The Middle,’ there are words I say that I just can’t get rid of the twang,” she continues. “So it is what it is, and I just try to make music that’s good. I don’t really worry about the genre police.”
When: 7 p.m. Thursday
Where: Revention Music Center, 520 Texas
Tickets: $40 and up; 713-230-1600 or reventionmusiccenter.com
Morris, like Kacey Musgraves and Sam Hunt, has carved a unique place for herself by confounding expectations. It’s earned her a wide swath of fans, a Grammy, a CMA Award and a Radio Disney Music Award. And it feels like she’s just getting started.
What’s been the biggest change since ‘The Middle’ introduced you to a pop audience?
I feel like the diversity of the crowds this tour is even greater. It’s not just all women or all men, all one color, one sexuality or age range, even. It’s kind of a little bit of everything. It’s really cool to see the chemistry of the crowd and the show change. Going into this record, and going into the production of it, made me think about which songs would really just slay live.
‘Girl’ runs the gamut from country to pop to RB. Is that a reflection of your personal tastes?
My favorite albums that I love listening to as a fan span so many genres and decades. I don’t really have any limits when it comes to the sonics of an album. I want it sound good in your car. I want it to sound beautiful on vinyl. It’s just a vibe that I’m trying to create. I try to be really respectful of my roots in this genre, but I also don’t want to be strangled by them, either. I’m young, and I’m evolving. I think that when you put a ceiling on a new artist like that, it’s really detrimental because it makes them second guess every single song they’re writing or performing.
What comes to mind when you think of Houston?
I remember the biggest capacity I sold on my first headline tour for ‘Hero’ was the Houston House of Blues. I just never thought that I’d be able to sell that many tickets. I was so floored. And obviously the Rodeo is a big thing in Texas as well.
Well, Beyoncé would definitely be having a dry spell if she was ever gonna collaborate with me. I loved her performance with the Dixie Chicks a couple of years ago at the CMAs when she did “Daddy Lessons” and they sang “Long Time Gone.” I think it’d be cool to do some sort of dirty, RB, bluegrass song with her.
Favorite Beyoncé song?
Don’t make me choose. The one that I always love listening to, because I just think it’s so beautiful and such a perfect song, is the last one on “Lemonade” called “All Night.” I actually covered that once before.
Most recent TV binge?
I’m actually looking it up right now. There are so many. I feel like I’m always watching ‘The Office.’ I’m obsessed with the show ‘Veep.’ Definitely blew through all the new season of ‘Queer Eye’ in like a day. I loved the ‘Narcos: Mexico’ installment. I really just don’t do anything with my day if I’m not performing. When my husband and I get off the road, all we do is just Netflix real hard.
It’s so hard because I love Lisa Vanderpump so much. She’s my queen. But I did think it was a little weird that she’s got employees that are very unprofessionally sharing gossip. I thought it was weird that she’s kind of siding with them instead of her friends. I’m stubborn as (expletive) so I know what it’s like to have it be so hard to apologize. The reason I end up siding with Teddy (Mellencamp) is she knows when to just say sorry and move on. Oh my gosh. I don’t know these people at all but I get so invested. I feel like Denise Richards is the only sane one this season.
You’ve also admitted to being obsessed with Korean boy band BTS.
They have so many music videos, and they are all, like, multi-million dollar looking productions and they are amazing dancers. It’s a weird phenomenon that you can get sucked into really easily. I would love to go to Seoul and dive into that whole culture. I remember when I sang with Dolly (Parton) on the Grammys, I watched a video back and they were jamming out to ‘Jolene.’ It was so sweet.
What celebrity meeting made you the most starstruck?
I was really, really scared to meet Elton John. I had no reason to be, because he had already been so sweet to me on the phone and a public fan of my work. But I was so scared to meet him because you’ve just grown up seeing this icon on TV your whole life. I think the only other person that I’ve been starstruck by was probably JLo at the Grammys a couple years ago. She came up to me backstage after I performed my song ‘Once’ with Alicia Keys. She was like, “That was so beautiful.” I hope I said, “Thank you.” I was just so mesmerized by how beautiful she was in person.
I went to CD Warehouse and purchased with my own money was The Cardigans’ ‘First Band on the Moon’ album. I think I remember purchasing Spice Girls’ first album as well. I was probably seven or eight years old, and I loved that “Lovefool” song. I ended up being obsessed with the entirety of The Cardigans’ work. Their best record is called ‘Long Gone Before Daylight.’ It’s one of my most inspiring albums that I go to when I need to fill my creative well for songs. It’s so underrated .
I love ‘Mama.’ That one’s so good. And it’s obviously, like, super sexual but “2 Become 1.” I can’t believe parents were letting their nine-year-old daughters sing along to that. But it’s so good. It’s literally saying, “I wanna make love to you, baby.”