Maren Morris is a breath of fresh air for many country listeners, and the CMA Awards recognized that with her New Artist win. The singer-songwriter feels like the combination of her win and those of other fresh faces means country music is opening its doors to a new, honest sound.

“I feel incredibly lucky to have received this award at the 50th [anniversary of the CMA Awards,” Morris said backstage after winning (quote via the Boot). “I think there was so much tradition in the audience and so many icons, but at the same time, the reflection of the winners … I feel like the tide is turning here in Nashville. Seeing people like Brothers Osborne win is huge … It just makes me so happy that new blood is coming in and being recognized.”

The artist has certainly brought considerable talent to the country landscape, and in a short period of time, which is part of the reason she was so shocked to have won. Last year, she mentioned in her acceptance speech, she was watching the show from a bar across the street.

“I think being in that category with friends of mine, and so much new talent up this year, when they called my name, I really was in genuine shock. I couldn’t quite get it together by the time I got to the microphone; I was just so overcome with emotion,” she said. "The first thing I thought about [after I won] was my parents in the audience, and everyone back home at their watching parties, and it hit me that it was real. I’m still processing it."

Morris performed her breakout hit “My Church” at the ceremony, showing off the vocal chops and songwriting talent that earned her the title of New Artist of the Year just moments later. She says it’s really the community in Nashville that has helped her get where she is today — including the award.

“I think it’s a win for all of us,” she explains. “Being a songwriter, coming from this community, we all win when one of us does. It’s not a one-man job; it’s a village that made this record happen, and made 'My Church’ happen.”

In the spirit of the 50th anniversary, celebrating all the artists who have shaped country music over the last half-century, Morris added that the influence of those artists are the reason her career is what it is.

“I wouldn’t be here without them paving the way. They said what they believed in,” she said. “They didn’t care what the trend was … People are wanting to hear honest songs again.”

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