Maren Morris isn't one to beat around the bush when it comes to letting fans know where she stands on an issue. From her poignant song lyrics to her unapologetic interviews, Morris has been fearless in calling out the elephant in the room: inequality in mainstream country music.

“It’s embarrassing,” Morris tells Esquire of women in country music struggling to be heard. “There needs to be way more male artists that are speaking up about it. Everyone’s afraid of their spin getting docked, but people need to be held accountable.”

As Morris points out, though, some artists are finding the courage to speak out, which makes all the difference: "People are getting braver," she adds. "And I’m glad."

"As much as people like to say, ‘Shut up and sing,’ those aren’t the people who move the culture forward," Morris notes. "Artists are extremely influential."

The way Morris sees it, everyone has a responsibility to act. “That’s how you put your money where your mouth is ... by giving these acts slots," Morris says, noting that Carrie Underwood, among others, is bringing all-female openers on her tour.

"My manager is a woman; my tour manager is a woman. My bass player, Annie, is such a badass onstage," Morris says of her own group. "I really trust these people. They’re the best at what they do.”

It's not just women who need to see more airplay, either: “I want more people of color played [on radio],” Morris says. “And I want more sexual identities realized."

"Everything needs to shift forward," she adds.

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