Published on Nov. 16, 2022, at 11:37 p.m.
by Carleigh Clark.
Morgan Wallen was a contestant on season six of NBC’s “The Voice.” Since then, Wallen has released over 20 songs and has undoubtedly taken over country music since his debut single, “The Way I Talk,” was released in 2016.
Wallen now holds the record for longest Top 10 run for an album by a single artist. However, his fame has been soiled by dark moments on the ride to success.
On Feb. 2, 2021, TMZ released a video showing Wallen coming home from a night out. In the video, he screams racial slurs and makes lewd comments. Shortly after the video surfaced, Wallen was dropped by his record label and disqualified from the American Country Music Awards.
Fans and fellow country artists were quick to call out the singer. Kelsea Ballerini, singer of the 2014 hit “Love Me Like You Mean It,” said in a tweet, “The news out of Nashville tonight does not represent country music.”
Mickey Guyton, one of the few African American female artists in country music, tweeted, “This is not his first time using that ‘unacceptable’ racial slur and we all [know] that. So what exactly are y’all going to do about it. Crickets won’t work this time.”
Fans were not happy with Wallen’s behavior either. In numerous tweets, fans voiced their disappointment in the singer and discussed the underlying racism that is still apparent in country music. It felt like Wallen needed to apologize quickly and with sincerity before his career was fully in jeopardy. In fact, he used numerous outlets to talk about the issue, instead of hiding from it.
In a statement to “Entertainment Tonight,” Wallen said, “I’m embarrassed and sorry. I used an unacceptable and inappropriate racial slur that I wish I could take back. There are no excuses to use this type of language, ever. I want to sincerely apologize for using the word. I promise to do better.”
Wallen also sat down with Michael Strahan on “Good Morning America” in July of 2021 to discuss the event. He claimed the words he said were only used around friends and “it just happened.” However, he acknowledged his mistake and has taken action to right his wrongs.
In September 2021, Wallen donated $500,000 to the National Museum of African American Music in Nashville, Wallen’s manager confirmed. The donation was made in order to support operation and education costs for the museum. In addition, Wallen toured the National Museum of African American Music in order to learn how to educate himself and support a group of people that he previously disrespected.
On Oct. 6, 2020, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Wallen was spotted partying maskless around The University of Alabama’s campus. He was filmed kissing students in bars and eventually making his way into the freshman dorms, as a 27-year-old. This stunt later got his upcoming “Saturday Night Live” appearance cancelled.
The next day, Wallen issued an apology after being nixed from SNL. In a statement to fans on Instagram, Wallen said, “I’m not positive for COVID, but my actions this past weekend were pretty short-sighted and they’ve obviously affected my long term goal and my dreams.”
Morgan Wallen’s relationships with his fans and fellow country artists have been strained in the past. While his public relations team is probably exhausted, he has always been quick to apologize and take responsibility for his words and actions.
In addition to losing his deal with his record label, Wallen was removed from Country Music Television, dropped from iHeartRadio and is no longer featured in playlists on Spotify and Apple Music. His apology not only applied to fans and those he hurt but also to the companies and brands that endorsed his image and gave him a paycheck.
More than a year after Wallen was held accountable for his actions, he is playing sold-out shows and is still one of the most prominent names in country music. He released multiple hit songs since the incident and has continued to grow in popularity. Even with the loss of sponsorships and credibility amongst fellow musicians, his digital sales skyrocketed 1,220% shortly after the TMZ video was shared online.
Whether Wallen’s success following dark moments was due to his willingness to learn and take action or an eye-opening display of ingrained racism and disrespect for others, we may never know. However, it’s clear that he publicly tried to take responsibility and talk openly about what he did wrong.
We can only hope, for Morgan Wallen’s sake, that his future holds less controversy and these apologies aren’t just a “Bandaid on a Bullet Hole.”