Onstage in Nashville on Friday, the "Dirt Road Anthem" singer teased a mystery performer who would be joining him. But while ticking off the names of some of country music's biggest stars, he mentioned Morris, and it drew booing from the crowd.
"Asked some friends to come out tonight to make the show extra special," Jason told the crowd, as seen in social media videos. "I thought, man, who could I call? I got some friends in town. I could call Luke Bryan. I could call Kane Brown. See if Kenny Chesney’s here and not at the beach."
The crowd cheered for each name until Aldean said, "Maren Morris," which received a negative response. As the attendees booed loudly, Jason shrugged and acted confused, as if he had no idea why the audience would react that way.
Jason, who is on his Rock N' Roll Cowboy Tour, went on to call out Morgan Wallen. Miranda Lambert was also a guest.
Jason's Morris reference stems from the back-and-forth she had with his wife, Brittany Aldean. In August, Brittany — half of the conservative country music couple — posted a video of herself doing her makeup with the caption, "I'd really like to thank my parents for not changing my gender when I went through my tomboy phase. I love this girly life." Maren was among the prominent women in the country music to reply, calling her a "scumbag human" for her transphobic comments. She also dubbed her "Insurrection Barbie" for peddling conspiracy theories after the Jan 6, 2021 riots at the Capitol.
Brittany doubled down on her comments — and was supported by Jason, who called her, "MY Barbie!!" Morris's husband, Ryan Hurd, also entered the chat, defending his wife, saying, "picking on trans kids isn't something that is brave at all." Meanwhile, Morris was identified as "lunatic country music person" on Tucker Carlson's Fox News show, a phrase she put on T-shirts and sold, donating the profits, over $150,000, to GLAAD’s Transgender Media Program and Trans Lifeline.
In September, Maren Morris said she had no regrets about going up against Brittany and Jason on social media, telling the Los Angeles Times, "I hate feeling like I need to be the hall monitor of treating people like human beings in country music. It's exhausting. But there's a very insidious culture of people feeling very comfortable being transphobic and homophobic and racist, and that they can wrap it in a joke and no one will ever call them out for it. It just becomes normal for people to behave like that."
However, Morris also said she's now undecided about whether she'll attend the Country Music Awards on Nov. 9 in this climate. Her album, Humble Quest, is nominated for Album of the Year. Jason's song with Carrie Underwood, “If I Didn’t Love You,” is nominated for Musical Event of the Year.
"I don't know if I feel [at] home there right now," Morris said. "As of right now, I don't feel comfortable going."