Does the Morgan Wallen scandal signal a broader reckoning in country music? | Nightline

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yeah you used to talk about getting even further south morgan wallin embodied country music his songs like seven summers there was seven summers ago a celebration of small town living good friends and good times the tennessee native rose to the top of the charts in 2018 with hits like whiskey glasses and never left at 27 years old wallen is one of the biggest stars in all of music now a racial slur has stopped his meteoric rise in its tracks a video obtained by tmz shows wallen and a group of his friends coming home early sunday morning after a night out on the town in nashville a neighbor was recording when wallen said this take care of this hey hey his use of that racial epithet led to swift fallout his two record labels announcing in the wake of recent events they write big loud records has made the decision to suspend morgan wallen’s recording contract indefinitely republic records the second label fully supports big loud’s decision and agrees such behavior will not be tolerated top radio chains have stopped playing his music including cumulus media iheartradio siriusxm and several others and tonight variety reporting his agent dropping him the academy of country music announcing that he is no longer eligible for any awards at their annual ceremony in april it’s the only time i can think of really in any genre where somebody just went from being the biggest star to having zero airplay almost in the course of one day now the country music industry finally forced to confront the issue of racism head-on what type of message is the industry sending by taking these stances the message that is being sent right now is that the n-word is a no-go i think that has been made clear can we get to the point now where we are also uncovering or working to undo the culture that supports an artist like how do we even get an artist in this space who is essentially on top of the world and still talks like this how do we get that why does he feel comfortable here doing that wallen apologized in the statement to tmz saying 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 but for some the apology was too little too late mickey guyton is the first black female country singer to be nominated for a grammy for her song black like me she tweeted when i read comments saying this is not who we are i laugh because this is exactly who country music is i’ve witnessed it for 10 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 you’ve got an industry like this one that is built on generations of whitewashing of white supremacy it’s going to take a lot of work to undo that morgan wallin got a start on the voice in 2014.

And as his fame grew so did his bad boy persona in may 2020 he was arrested for public intoxication and disorderly conduct after being kicked out of kid rock’s bar in tennessee and arguing outside when bouncers asked him to leave in october he was scheduled to make his debut on saturday night live as the musical guest when this video of him kissing strangers and partying massless with fans in an alabama bar surface clearly not following the show’s covet 19 safety protocols my actions this past weekend we’re pretty short-sighted and they have obviously affected my long-term goals and my dreams he was invited back two months later where the cast made fun of him over the incident and i thank you in advance for giving this poor southern boy a second gank that’s beautiful after the snl episode he wrote the double album dangerous which debuted at number one and is a streaming juggernaut with over 240 million on-demand streams of the songs like wasted on you and the mega hit more than my hometown there’s really only about four viable black artists in country music right now commercially and people have just been saying you know does it have to be that way forever and then just when there’s been a lot of discussion about elevating black artists and country music from the margins to the mainstream you have the top artist in the genre come along and use the n-word country music has long been thought of as a music for white audiences and dominated by white artists like luke combs carrie underwood and blake shelton nashville operates in this bubble the country music industry is completely separate from all other music genres all of the music industries on the coast they get to make their own rules here and then they get to enforce them however they want to it’s almost like morgan put the ball in the industry’s court and said decide who you want to be yeah anybody black that’s in or around this industry that’s not the stuff that keeps us up at night but what really keeps us up is not being able to work is not being able to to do what we’re called to do is not being able to get a job as a black guitarist because nobody will let you be black at the front of the stage those are the issues that we have to get around dolly parton who famously said she never discusses politics began supporting the black lives matter movement telling billboard of course black lives matter do we think our little white asses are the only ones that matter no and mega star maren morris known for her top hits girl and the middle paid homage to black women in her acceptance speech at the country music awards in november there are so many amazing black women that pioneered and continued to pioneer this genre the issue of race is not a political issue the issue of race is a human rights issue a basic human rights issue so when i see country artists standing up for that that is so beautiful to me because it’s not natural and normal for country artists to take those kinds of stands guyton is part of a new generation of artists pushing to make country music more diverse country music is for everyone and i want people to feel encouraged that they can love this genre love this music show up to the concerts show up to the signings show up to the award shows and feel loved and to see themselves and to be accepted tj osborne also breaking down barriers the 36 year old one half of brothers osborne known for their hits like stay a little longer just came out publicly yesterday in time magazine saying i want to get to the height of my career being completely who i am i’m very comfortable being gay i’m very proud to put this out there i want to let you all know that i’ve gotten to know me over the years that the person you know is me and now you just know more about me this afternoon he spoke his truth to ellen it’s because you’re in country music and i think that’s a genre that is is more difficult it seems than any other music uh why do you think that is you know i think country really comes from a lot of rural roots that are a lot of kind of christianity and a lot of kind of old-school way of thinking and and i really think that’s changed a lot over the years and i know it’s changed a lot over the years and you know i’m really kind of i’m curious to see how it all plays out with us going to rural america with one foot stepping forward in another rooted in the past country music is facing a reckoning what type of steps do you think the industry needs to take to make this change lasting ultimately it comes down to getting uncomfortable into doing the things that they’ve never done before if you’re a songwriter and you’re going in a room to write a song and everybody around you is white that’s a problem it is important that you look beyond the scope that you are normally used to looking through like you have to break outside of your comfort zone so now it’s time for the industry to meet these people a little further than halfway .

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