Maren Morris held a Grammy U Writer’s Round event with Rolling Stone at the Bluebird Cafe to discuss her debut album, Hero. The album, released in June of 2016, debuted and peaked at #5 on the BIllboard 200 and was #1 on Billboard’s US Top Country Albums. In addition to being a nominee for CMA Album of the Year, Morris won the Best New Artist Award at the 50th CMAs.
Morris was accompanied by songwriters Natalie Hemby and Laura Veltz as well as songwriter and producer Busbee. Veltz was a co-writer of three songs on the album, “Sugar,” “Rich,” and “I Could Use a Love Song.” Hemby was a co-writer of two songs on the album, “How It’s Done” and “I Wish I Was.” Busbee was a co-writer on four songs, “How It’s Done,” “Once,” “80’s Mercedes,” and her #1 hit song, “My Church.” Busbee also produced the album with Columbia Nashville. Morris co-wrote all 11 songs on the album as well.
Morris has been a songwriter in Nashville for the past four years, with her song “I Wish I Was” being the “first song [she] ever held for herself” which is how Hero, was born. Morris describes the album as “a gigantic mixtape of our lives,” with every person involved in the album being a friend and supporter of Morris and her music. Reaching over a variety of genres including reggae, pop, country, R&B, and more, Busbee and Morris could not overemphasize that this album was not over thought about. Hero’s authenticity came from the fact that “we all just did the thing and we didn’t overthink it,” according to the writers. When asked how so many different genres came about in the album, Busbee claims, “these songs sound this way because this is who you are and this is what your life is about.”
The “undeniable first track,” “Sugar” starts the album off with an “audible candy” sound. A pop-country crossover song that does not stop there, with the next song being the second single from the record, “Rich.” Written by Morris and Veltz, this song was originally supposed to be a sad break-up song, that turned into an angsty ex-girlfriend song. Hero has personality in it right from the beginning and Morris wanted this intentionally. She came into the music world not playing any games.
The song that truly set Morris’ career into motion, “My Church” was initially just a title and a concept in Morris’ head. While driving around Los Angeles with a friend, she thought to herself, “this really is like church to me: being in the car and not having any plans and just driving and listening to music that makes you think and gets you inspired.” When returning to Nashville, Morris brought the idea to Busbee and within two hours, the song that exploded the charts and put Morris on the map was created. She describes the writing process as, “one of those moments where you’re just trying to grab it before it floats away forever.” Busbee and Morris kept the lyrics and melody flowing and never looked back.
With a variety of influences from classic country to modern hip-hop, this album is an authentic, masterfully produced debut album that only leaves fans wanting even more music from Morris. With her brutally honest lyrics and confident style, Morris has truly captivated an audience from all genres and walks of life.
Check out Maren Morris on her upcoming The Hero Tour in 2017.