The Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee, is facing backlash by some music fans — including Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Jason Isbell — over allowing Morgan Wallen to perform at its venue on Saturday night.
— Grand Ole Opry (@opry) January 9, 2022
Isbell took to Twitter on Sunday to react to the Opry hosting Wallen, writing, “I’m real sad for a lot of my friends today,” adding, “Not surprised though. Just sad.”
Last night @opry you had a choice- either upset one guy and his “team,” or break the hearts of a legion of aspiring Black country artists. You chose wrong and I’m real sad for a lot of my friends today. Not surprised though. Just sad.
— Jason Isbell (@JasonIsbell) January 9, 2022
Meanwhile, Holly G, the founder of Black Opry, a platform for black country musicians and artists, said in an email to the Opry that Wallen’s attendance was confusing, and “a slap in the face” to black people.
“I am extremely confused by the welcoming of Morgan Wallen to the Opry stage last night,” she wrote. “It felt like a slap in the face to see you all celebrate Charley Pride, only to pull this stunt 24 hours later.”
“You should know that our community is extremely disappointed, though many are not surprised,” Holly G added. “A stage that was once a dream destination for many Black artists has now cemented itself as one of the many Nashville stages on which we know we are not respected.”
In the interest of transparency I would like you all to know that this letter was shared with the Opry this morning, via email. We may not get the answers we want, but we will be heard. https://t.co/nZY9lTYHtp
— The Black Opry (@BlackOpry) January 9, 2022
Wallen has been dealing with fallout since last February, after a video was published showing him using the N-word after a night out with his friends.
The singer apologized for using the racial slur, stating, “I’m embarrassed and sorry,” adding, “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 as a result of the video, the chart-topper was nonetheless dropped by radio networks and major streaming platforms, as well as his talent agency, WME.
The singer was also banned from last November’s American Music Awards (AMAs) in Los Angeles — despite having been nominated for two awards, favorite country album and favorite male country artist.
Despite having been nearly completely blacklisted from the country music scene, Wallen had the best-selling album of 2021, outperforming the likes of Adele, Olivia Rodrigo, and Drake.
While Wallen has not commented on the pushback, the singer posted about his Opry appearance to Instagram on Sunday, writing, “So proud of one of my best friends @ernest on his Opry debut last night.”
“I’ve been able witness your talent for bout 7 years now, I’m really excited the world gets to witness the same thing soon,” he added. “Thanks for letting me be a part of it. Love you brother.”