Rising country star Morgan Wallen is again addressing a leaked video that showed him in a drunken state while using the N-word among friends.
In an interview on the July 23 episode of “Good Morning America,” Wallen insists the racial slur is not a regular part of his vocabulary, but did admit to using it before around select friends. The “Whiskey Glasses” singer added that the night he was captured using the N-word it was not in a derogatory manner.
“I was around some of my friends, and you know we just…we say dumb stuff together. And it was — in our minds, it’s playful…that sounds ignorant, but it — that’s really where it came from…and it’s wrong,” Wallen told “GMA” co-host Michael Strahan on July 23. When confronted with the fact that some fans, and critics, may perceive him speaking out as a means of “saving face,” Wallen said he could “only come and tell my truth.”
Video footage of the incident, which was recorded by a neighbor, first leaked in early February. Wallen is seen outside his Nashville, Tennessee, home saying “take care of this p—-y ass m—————-r” and “Take care of this p—-y a-s N-word,” before retreating inside the residence.
Several days later, Feb. 8, Wallen released a video apologizing to his fans for using the word and sharing that he had already embarked on a journey of sobriety.
Fan reaction to the apology was divided.
But the fallout from the footage was swift. Wallen, 28, was suspended indefinitely from his label, Big Loud and Republic, and had his music pulled from streaming services, and he was banned from making an appearance at this year’s Billboard Music Awards.
“Morgan Wallen is a finalist this year based on charting. As his recent conduct does not align with our core values, we will not be including him on the show in any capacity,” said Dick Clark Productions, the company responsible for producing the show each year. The statement continued, “It is heartening and encouraging to hear that Morgan is taking steps in his anti-racist journey and starting to do some meaningful work. We plan to evaluate his progress and will consider his participation in future shows.”
Wallen said his efforts to do better were not only limited to sobriety and an apology. The new father also met with Black organizations and leaders in the music industry — such as Bebe Winans, executive Kevin Liles, the Black Music Action Coalition (BMAC) — to better understand his misstep and the damaging history of the N-word.
“I haven’t seen that with my eyes, that pain, or that insignificant feeling, or whatever feeling it is that it makes you feel,” he said. And as a white man he was clear of his limitations in ever experiencing the heaviness of being referred to as a N-word.
“I don’t know how to put myself in their shoes because I’m not [Black], but I do understand, especially when I say that I’m using it playfully or ignorantly, I understand that that must sound like he doesn’t understand,” Wallen further explained to Strahan.
But what he did understand is that apologizing and having conversations would not be enough to make good on his promise to change. So, as sales soared for his album “Dangerous” The Double Album” soared, Wallen and his team used $500,000 of the profits as charitable donations to various Black organizations.
But for some, like fellow country music singer Mickey Guyton, who is Black, that incident only highlights the racial divide of the genre.