Morgan Wallen Reflects on 2021, Says He’s Headed Into 2022 ‘Feeling Inspired and Free’
In the first days of 2022, Morgan Wallen took a moment to reflect on the tumultuous year behind him, thanking those who were steadfast in their support and expressing optimism about the year ahead.
2021 was an eventful year for Wallen, to say the least. In early February, TMZ published video doorcam footage that showed the singer saying goodbye to a car full of friends at the end of a long night out, yelling a racist slur — the N-word— as he did so. The music industry swiftly reacted: Wallen was removed from many country radio station playlists, disqualified from major awards shows and had his contract placed on "indefinite hiatus" by his record label.
Wallen stepped out of the spotlight for much of the year, canceling his planned touring schedule and stopping promotion for his January 2021 release, Dangerous: The Double Album.
Despite the fact that fans weren't seeing much of the singer himself, or hearing his music on the radio, they didn't forget about Wallen: Dangerous spent a whopping 10 weeks atop the Billboard Hot 200 chart in 2021 and was that chart's year-end No. 1, too, becoming the fourth country album to hit that benchmark.
Many fans voiced their support for the singer in his absence, and ahead of the spring 2021 ACM Awards — an awards show from which Wallen had been banned — billboards began to pop up around Nashville referring to him as the "people's choice" for Entertainer of the Year.
In February, Wallen had asked zealous fans to stop defending him, saying in a social media video that, "I was wrong. It's on me to take ownership of this, and I fully accept any penalties I'll face."
He went on to say that he appreciated his fans' support, but for the time being, he wanted them to step down.
However, in his recent post reflecting on the year behind him, Wallen expresses his appreciation for the fans who stuck by him.
"Thank you to everyone who believed in me and continued to believe in me, even when it wasn't the popular thing to do," he writes. " Thank you to my family, my band, my friends and my fans for having my back and sticking up for me when so many were coming for me. I hope my heart has shown through the noise."
Wallen also acknowledges what a tumultuous year it's been for him, saying, "I could write a book on 2021. And I probably will one day." In the meantime, though, the singer is looking ahead to the year to come.
"I go into 2022 feeling inspired and free. Inspired to create from the heart and free to share those creations with you guys," Wallen continues. "I'm so proud of how far we've come together. I still feel like this is just the beginning. God bless y'all[.] Let's crush this year."
The singer has begun to make his return to the spotlight in recent months. He's planning an extensive run of dates called the Dangerous Tour, featuring openers Hardy and Larry Fleet, to begin in February. He also recently lent his voice to the Hardy-curated Hixtape Vol. 2, which came out in February, and collaborated with rapper Lil Durk on a song called "Broadway Girls." Most recently, he appears alongside newcomer Ernest in the latter act's new song, "Flower Shops."
Meanwhile, Wallen's racist slur scandal continues to leave many listeners with misgivings about his status as a country music superstar. During a July interview with Good Morning America's Michael Strahan, the singer pledged $500,000 in donations to several Black-led organizations, however, Rolling Stone later called into question exactly where that money landed, or indeed if those donations had been made at all.
Wallen's manager, Seth England, clarified to USA Today that $300,000 had been donated to the Black Music Action Coalition (BMAC), but that the money was donated not in Wallen's name, but in the names of 20 people who "counseled" the singer after his use of the N-word. Of the remaining $200,000, half went to Rock Against Racism via Big Loud Records, while the remaining $100,000 has been earmarked to be dispersed to Back-led organizations in Tennessee by the end of the year," per USA Today.