As we count down to Sunday's Academy of Country Music Awards on CBS, country music star Maren Morris is using her voice to push for change in the music industry. The 28-year-old singer-songwriter is nominated for female artist of the year.
"I think that it's a really interesting time to be in music right now, when all of the post #MeToo conversations happened. It makes you recognize in yourself things that you've allowed that aren't acceptable," Morris told CBS News. "Everything from a program director of a radio station hanging on you and being drunk and inappropriate, to feeling like you have to laugh at someone's joke that isn't funny. … I've learned that I don't have to do those things."
Her latest album, "Girl," debuted at No. 1 on country Billboard charts and broke streaming records for a female country artist.
"I remember when we wrote the song 'Flavor' for my record, there was a line in the bridge that says, 'I won't play the victim. I don't fit that mold. But shut up and sing? Hell no, I won't.' … It just felt like an 'eff yeah' moment for me, to be brave enough to say and put on a record now sing in every live show," Morris said.
Music journalist Marissa Moss said women in country music have been "grossly underrepresented when it comes to country radio." But Morris is "using every tool she has to force change around this topic and make sure it's constantly being talked about in Nashville which is incredibly powerful."
Moss also pointed to Morris' collaboration with Brandi Carlile in the song "Common," with lyrics that sing, "We got way too much in common." Carlile is openly gay, and in a place like Nashville that is known to lean conservative, Moss said her decision was "extremely groundbreaking, extremely inclusive."
"I just think that I've somehow been lucky in the risky moves I've made in my career, and my hope for country music is that it stays true to itself, but it also doesn't get left behind," Morris said.
Morris' success didn't come overnight. She said she tried out for every television talent show including "American Idol."
"You get 10 seconds in a row of four people for these, like, 25-year-old producers… they said none of us made it. And you have to do the walk of shame, like, through the tunnel of the stadium and go back to the parking lot where your mom's parked, and just, like, cry on the way home," Morris recounted.
Despite the no's, Morris persisted in pursuing her dreams and writing songs.
"I think singing is honestly my first love and always will be. I love writing songs. I love expressing my voice in that way, but there's just something so transcendent about being on stage and having a gift that it moves people," Morris said.