Morgan Wallen is the most popular artist in country music at the moment, but his music was just removed from country radio, and the fallout from a video showing him using a racial slur continues.
Wallen was caught on camera Sunday night (January 31), using the “N-word” to describe a drunken friend in an alcohol fueled, late-night tirade. The singer behind Dangerous: The Double Album was outside his home at the time, and video captured by neighbors was provided to TMZ last evening (February 2).
Since the story broke, backlash against Wallen has been swift. Although he issued a statement apologizing and promising “to do better,” Cumulus country radio stations have been directed to pull Wallen’s music from the airwaves — a major response that impacts some 400 stations across the nation. Wallen has been the most played artist at country radio for the past two years running, and his current single, “7 Summers,” was approaching the Top 10.
“Team, unfortunately country music star Morgan Wallen was captured on video Sunday evening using a racial slur,” says the Cumulus memo, according to Variety. “Effective immediately we request that all of Morgan Wallen’s music be removed from our playlists without exception. More to follow.”
Likewise, any promotion of Wallen’s music has apparently been removed by Apple Music and other streaming services, and powerful country radio personality Bobby Bones weighed in on his show this morning (February 3). After explaining his disgust for the word Wallen used and saying The Bobby Bones Show would not be playing Wallen’s music for the time being, Bones advocated for Wallen to spend some time out of the spotlight, while also expressing reservations about “cancel culture.” Bones’ show is carried by iHeartMedia, another major player in country radio. (iHeartMedia released a statement about pulling Wallen’s music: “In light of Morgan Wallen’s recent actions involving the use of a racial slur, we have made the decision to remove his music and content from our stations effective immediately,” an iHeart spokesperson told Billboard.)
“He’s got a lot of self evaluation to do, friends. A lot,” Bones said, responding to a call from a listener. “And people say ‘Well he wouldn’t feel this way if he didn’t get in trouble.’ Well, thank God he got in trouble so he can now feel a different way.”
Multiple country artists have denounced the ugly moment. After Kelsea Ballerini wrote that the news “does not represent country music,” Marren Morris and Mickey Guyton — one of the genre’s few mainstream black artists — fired back that in fact, it does.
“It actually IS representative of our town because this isn’t his first ‘scuffle’ and he just demolished a huge streaming record last month regardless,” Morris wrote. “We all know it wasn’t his first time using that word. We keep them rich and protected at all costs with no recourse.”
“When I read comments saying ‘this is not who we are’ I laugh because this is exactly who country music is,” Guyton said. “I’ve witnessed it for 10 gd years. You guys should just read some of the vile comments hurled at me on a daily basis. It’s a cold hard truth to face but it is the truth.”
Morgan Wallen had been sitting at Number One on the all-genre Billboard 200 album chart for three weeks with his sophomore LP, Dangerous: The Double Album. Read more here.
Update: Since publishing this article, CMT has also announced that they will be pulling Wallen’s music and videos from their platform.
“After learning of Morgan Wallen’s racial slur late last night, we are in the process of removing his appearances from all our platforms. We do not tolerate or condone words and actions that are in direct opposition to our core values that celebrate diversity, equity & inclusion.”
CMT is known for fighting for equal play for artists of all genders, races and orientations. Additionally, radio companies Entercom and and Beasley have also reportedly pulled Wallen from their stations.
Both the Country Music Association and Academy of Country Music shared statements of the actions they’d be taking following Wallen’s comments.
“In light of Morgan Wallen’s recent use of a racial slur, CMA is removing his digital content from our platform. We support our Country music partners in taking swift action. We will confer further with our Board of Directors to review additional measures and will continue to examine our industry’s inclusivity efforts,” the CMA shared.
“The Academy of Country Music will halt Morgan Wallen’s potential involvement and eligibility for this year’s 56th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards cycle. We have made his management team aware of this decision. The Academy does not condone or support intolerance or behavior that doesn’t align with our commitment and dedication to diversity and inclusion,” wrote the ACM. “In the coming weeks, the Academy will expedite the offering of long-planned diversity training resources for our ACM membership, Board, Staff and the Country Music artist community, made available through our Diversity + Inclusion Task Force, established in 2018. As a result of this unprecedented situation, the Academy will be reviewing our awards eligibility and submission process, ensuring our nominees reflect the Academy’s integrity.”