For this year’s annual Women Shaping the Future issue, we asked 12 of today’s top musical acts to talk about the women who have inspired them most in their lives and careers. Here, Maren Morris talks about her friendship with Sheryl Crow.
Friend, sister, highwoman: Sheryl Crow is what you want your hero to be, which is nothing that will shatter your illusions of them. I can count on one hand the people that have been that for me. Dolly Parton is one of them. Sheryl Crow is the other.
My mom was a Sheryl fan, so that’s how I became one. Of course, being six or seven years old, I didn’t know just how much of a badass she was. There’s really no one quite like her. She’s collaborated with so many amazing artists. She’s genre-less. Even to this day, that’s something that I try to hold true to myself: not worrying about the label attached, just putting songs out that you love, that you wrote. Every record of hers that came out — her self-titled, Globe Sessions — carved out my musical brain and sensibilities in the late Nineties. That’s when I really was starting to love singing. I still cry when I hear “Strong Enough.” It is one of those where it’s just perfection, lyrically and production-wise. It’s timeless. It resonates with me so much, even though I’m happily married.
She called me five or six years ago. My song “My Church” had just come out; I was in between negotiations with a couple of different record labels. I remember getting a phone call, and I didn’t answer it because it was an unknown number. I was at a bar after a write, and I was like, “Hold on, guys, I have a voicemail.” The bottom dropped out of the room. It was Sheryl Crow, saying that she was a fan of “My Church” and saw a lot of herself in that song. We’ve had so many moments together that pepper my career — these ultimate highs. She’s been a huge proponent of my career being legitimized.
For years, she’s always shown up for me, and I’ve shown up for her. Being in the studio forged that friendship in a deeper way. There are some artists I’ve collaborated with and it’s like you’re walking on eggshells. You are trying to be respectful, and you idolize this person, but you don’t feel quite comfortable in the room. But with Sheryl, not once have I ever felt like that. She’s always collaborative. Working at her barn studio to sing on the song with her and Stevie was such a fun day, just being in her element and harmonizing. I was like, “I can’t believe I’m doing this — and it’s being recorded!”
The year before last, she was playing the Ryman. Her sons were side-stage, and they were bringing her guitars out to her. I hadn’t told anyone that I was pregnant yet, and I remember being hormonal and thinking, “Oh my god, I love that her sons are watching their badass mom dominate the Ryman tonight.” At the end of the day, she’s always Sheryl, but she is such an incredible mother, a very present mother. I don’t even know if her kids know she’s Sheryl Crow, because she keeps them so grounded and has such deep roots. There’s no ego, and that’s such an aspirational quality in a world where it’s all ego. It’s nice when you meet your hero and they’re all that you hoped they would be and more. That’s what Sheryl is. I will love her always.