Nashville has punished Morgan Wallen. But country music’s reckoning with racism awaits

This article by Marissa Moss Originally appeared in The LA Times February 4th, 2021

“To no consequences!” Morgan Wallen said during an appearance on “Saturday Night Live” back in December, raising a bottle of beer in a skit about taking a warning from his future self, courtesy of host Jason Bateman. The joke was that Wallen, country music’s fastest-rising star, had been invited back after he was kicked off a prior episode for violating COVID protocol — i.e., making out with girls at a bar unmasked and getting caught on camera doing so. Here he was, in the most coveted spot on television, getting a second chanceThis past weekend, Wallen was caught on camera again, this time by a neighbor’s Ring camera, using a racial slur outside his home in the Berry Hill area of Nashville. And this time, he woke up to consequences: The video was leaked to TMZ, and in less than 24 hours Wallen’s music was pulled from rotation by radio conglomerates iHeartMedia, Cumulus, Cox Media Group, Entercom and Beasley Broadcasting — a major blow to any artist, but particularly for country artists, who are dependent on the support of country radio. His label, Big Loud, suspended his record contract. Cable network CMT is “in the process of removing his appearances from all our platforms,” as is the Country Music Assn. His songs have been removed from curated streaming playlists on Spotify and Apple Music, though his music remains available on the platforms. The Academy of Country Music halted his eligibility for awards and “will expedite the offering of long-planned diversity training resources.”

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