Photo: Morgan Wallen / YouTube
KRISTIN M. HALL AP entertainment writer
Created: July 23, 2021 2:04 PM
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – In his first interview in six months, disgraced country star Morgan Wallen said he ignored her using a racial slur.
During an interview with Michael Strahan on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Friday, Wallen said he hadn’t used it in a derogatory way, but it was still wrong.
Wallen was already one of the genre’s biggest stars, with crossover hits like “Whiskey Glasses,” when the video was posted on TMZ in February. Wallen had previously apologized for using the slurs and radio stations and streaming services had temporarily removed him from playlists, but his album sales surged.
He was disqualified from the Academy of Country Music Awards, but remains eligible for several awards at the upcoming Country Music Association Awards. He has since returned to the Billboard country charts with his first single since the incident and his album, “Dangerous: The Double Album,” remains the most popular album released this year across all genres.
Wallen told Strahan he had been drinking all weekend until February night.
“I was with some of my friends and we say stupid things together,” Wallen said. “In our mind, it’s fun. It sounds ignorant, but that’s really where it comes from. And it is wrong.
He denied using the term frequently and said he only used it around a certain group of friends.
After Strahan explained some of the historical background behind the term, Strahan asked Wallen directly if he understood why this made black people so upset.
“I don’t know how to put myself in their shoes because I’m not, you know, but I get it,” Wallen said. “Especially when I say I’m using it playfully, or whatever, out of ignorance, I understand it must sound like ‘He doesn’t understand.'”
Wallen said that since the incident, he has taken time off work and gone to rehab. When album sales skyrocketed following his industry condemnation, he decided to donate around $ 500,000 to organizations such as the Black Music Action Coalition.
Country music has struggled with diversity in a genre that has long been dominated by white male performers, but Wallen’s actions have brought the issue to the fore. This year, another country star, Luke Combs, apologized for his past use of the Confederate flag.
When asked if country music on the whole had a problem with race, Wallen replied, “It would sound that way, yes. I didn’t really sit down and thought about it.