Cover photo courtesy of Today
You might hear a song on the radio by Morgan Wallen, one of the most popular country music artists, however, the country music star jeopardized his career in 2021 when he was caught on video yelling racial slurs. Many of his fans were disappointed and embarrassed by his actions, but continued to love his music.
Wallen made his first appearance on the Country Music Billboards in 2016 and has been loved ever since. He released a hit album, Dangerous, in January 2021.
However, on February 2nd, 2021, he was recorded yelling the n-word and other inappropriate comments at his friend. Wallen was returning to his home in Nashville, Tennessee after a night of partying. Fans were horrified by the artist’s actions.
After the incident, Wallen’s music was pulled from numerous radio stations and he was suspended from his record label. His music was even taken off streaming services’ curated playlists like Spotify’s Hot Country playlist and was banned from the Academy of Country Music Awards in 2021.
On February 10th, 2021, about a week after the video was released, Wallen posted a video via Instagram extending an apology to all whom he offended. He explained that he is trying to better his mindset by staying sober and learning more about the gravity of the harsh words he said. He said, "I accepted some invitations from some amazing black organizations to engage in some very real and honest conversations,” and that, “I came away with a clearer understanding of the weight of my words.” Fans were appreciative of his apology and his steps towards being better in the future.
Many fans were still uncomfortable with his impulsive and offensive behavior, however, they continued to enjoy his music. Wallen’s streams were barely affected by this incident. According to Luminate Data, Wallen’s music reached a new record of 28.66 million streams on February 4th, 2 days after the video was posted proving that fans still loved his music.
In July 2021, Wallen had an interview with Good Morning America to address the incident one last time. Wallen said he didn’t use the n-word “frequently” in the past, but that when he did, it was only around a “certain” group of his friends.
In the summer, Wallen’s music had returned to the radio and set new records. In October 2021, Wallen set records for ticket sales at Rupp Arena. He also announced his tour in 2022 in October. In the spring of 2022, Wallen won Album of the Year at the ACM Awards, despite being banned from the ACMs in the previous year. It appears that his career has not been affected by the racial slur video just 7 months before.
Fans were glad that Wallen took steps to do better, but some have voiced concerns on social media that these steps won’t change his impulsive and explicit actions. Some people believe this country music star was only trying to save his career and that his true beliefs won’t be changed. As his streams and sales are reaching new heights, many are torn between Wallen’s great music and his poor actions, but fans are hopeful Wallen will make better future choices.