Maren Morris on Being Honest About Depression, Being Rejected From ‘American Idol,’ and Being Inspired by Fleetwood Mac Legend Christine McVie
“I think [McVie] is one of the most beautiful vocalists and piano players in the world,” the singer-songwriter tells HowardDecember 13, 2023
The first guest to join the show Wednesday morning was singer, songwriter, and cross-genre superstar Maren Morris. The Texas-born solo sensation and member of the supergroup The Highwomen visited the studio to celebrate the life and musical contributions of former Fleetwood Mac singer and keyboardist Christine McVie, who passed in late 2022 at the age of 79. Maren performed a heartfelt cover of the British rock band’s 1974 tearjerker “Songbird,” which McVie wrote.
“That band has had such a deep songwriting effect on me,” Morris told Howard.
“I think [McVie] is one of the most beautiful vocalists and piano players in the world … and I’m really glad that y’all let me do [‘Songbird’] because that’s the song my mom walked down the aisle to,” she added. “I haven’t told her that I’m performing it today, so she’s gonna lose her shit.”
When talking about “Songbird,” Maren revealed the track reminds her of her young son. “I think my favorite thing [about] how she wrote [‘Songbird’] is that it wasn’t about anyone in particular,” she said. “It was about nobody and everybody, and those are the best songs.”
A First-Round ‘American Idol’ Exit
In addition to wowing Howard and co-host Robin Quivers with her musical tribute, Maren also sat down for a wide-ranging interview covering everything from her recent split with husband Ryan Hurd to the time she auditioned for “American Idol” but didn’t make the cut.
“I sang Chaka Khan’s ‘Sweet Thing,’ which is still my karaoke song. I nailed it,” Maren recalled for Howard.
Inexplicably, however, Maren never made it past the first round of the competition. “I had to have been probably 16 or 17 when I went to the Cowboys’ stadium in Dallas and did the big cattle call [with] 20,000 people. You only get 10 seconds … to sing for this tent of 20-year old producers,” she continued, adding, “It sucked. It hurt for sure in the moment.”
Looking back on it all, Morris told Howard the rejection was a blessing in disguise. “I’m so lucky that they did say no because I was not ready to be in the limelight … The music was not there. My voice was still maturing. Even though it was good at the time, I just hadn’t found it yet,” she said. “I would’ve been a fucking nightmare. Like, a teenage, signed artist? I would not have handled it like some of my peers.”
Overcoming PostPartum Depression
Maren has spoken publicly about her mental health in the past and on Wednesday she shared with Howard more details of her bout with postpartum depression after giving birth to her son a few years back. “It’s a lot on the mom. You love your baby, you’re obsessed with your baby, but oh my god your body has been through a violent thing — and of course you’re going to be affected by it emotionally and hormonally afterward.”
The singer also spoke about her much publicized split with fellow musician Ryan Hurd. Though the two are divorcing, Morris credited Ryan — along with time, therapy, and Zoloft — with helping her overcome postpartum depression.
While talking about relationships, Howard wondered if his guest had begun dating again.
Maren told him she wasn’t quite ready. “I don’t have the headspace for that, but I am writing so much right now,” she said.