Today, Maren Morris is one of country music’s brightest stars, but success didn’t come easy. According to Ace Showbiz, she learned to sing at the age of 10 using her family’s karaoke machine. The hitmaker dreamed of making it big one day, and she spent hours performing all over her native Texas. “Music was always this weekend job I had while the rest of my friends went to slumber parties. It never seemed unusual for me to sing in bars on weekends because I’d just been doing it for so long at the time. ‘ Morris told the Dallas Observer. She released her debut album, Walk On, in 2005 — and to pay for production and distribution, Morris’ mother told Harper’s Bazaar that they were “basically selling the furniture out of the house.”
It wasn’t until Morris released her studio album Hero in 2016 that she finally broke through into the scene. According to Billboard, “Hero” peaked at #5 on the US Billboard 200 and #1 on the US Top Country Albums chart. Morris’ highly anticipated follow-up, GIRL, further cemented her as one of country music’s queens.
Morris’ story is proof that persevering through adversity is often the only way to make your dreams come true. Not only did “The Bones” singer struggle for years before becoming a mainstay at big industry events like the CMAs, but she was also rejected from several major reality singing competitions.
American Idol showrunners passed on Maren Morris
American Idol is famous for spawning singing superstars like Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, and Jennifer Hudson, but Maren Morris wasn’t meant to be on that list. In July, the Grammy winner Instagrammed a photo of a 2007 American Idol audition ticket and wrote, “I didn’t make it past the first round of the cattle call.” In a subsequent Instagram story (via USA today), she added that the show’s decision makers “walked past me in 5 seconds.” The singer also opened up about her failed “Idol” audition during a 2019 episode of “Late Night With Seth Meyers,” calling it “very traumatic.” “It’s kind of like a cattle call at the stadium, and you’re auditioning for a 20-year-old producer who probably doesn’t have a music credit. You only sing for about eight seconds and sing your heart out and then mine The whole group was cut short. They said, ‘I’m sorry! You must walk the path of shame,’” she recalled.
“American Idol” wasn’t the only rejection Morris faced before making it big in Nashville. During a 2019 appearance on “Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen,” a fan referenced the fact that she was rejected by both “Idol” and “The Voice” early in her career. “It’s not even that,” replied the “Circles Around This Town” singer. “I was rejected by ‘America’s Got Talent.’ There was a lot I didn’t make it to. Thank God!” Take it from Morris and don’t let a few “no’s” get you down.
Maren Morris says she’s grateful she never competed on reality TV
Even amidst the rejection, Maren Morris managed to find a silver lining. In fact, she’s grateful that shows like American Idol, The Voice, and America’s Got Talent turned her down. Had she competed on television, “someone else would own her [her] s**t,” as host Andy Cohen aptly pointed out on an episode of Watch What Happens Live. Also, “Now people cover my songs for their auditions on these shows, so not only is it really nice to have my song on a national TV show, [but] I can collect the check and take my sweet revenge,” Morris added. Looks like she’ll definitely have the last laugh. IMDb notes that the star has been nominated for 44 awards throughout her career and she notched up a win for Song Of The Year (for “The Bones”) at the 2022 ACM Awards.
While the reality show’s rejection of Morris is surprising, it’s not unique. Per Country Now, she joins a list of others whose current success has been belied by past setbacks. Just ask Luke Combs, who won Male Vocalist of the Year at the 2021 CMAs. “I got through those rounds with the producers, but I got a letter saying I wasn’t ‘interesting’ enough for the show’s ratings, so I didn’t get to it [‘The Voice’]’ Combs told Whiskey Riff in 2019. Perhaps those same producers are now looking back with regret.