Morgan Wallen has pledged $ 500,000 to black-led groups. Where did he go ?


When Morgan Wallen appeared on Hello america in July for his first interview after being filmed saying the n-word, he vowed to make amends.

“Before this incident, my album was already doing well; it was already well received by critics and fans, ”he told host Michael Strahan, five months after the video was released. “My team and I noticed that every time this incident happened, there was an increase in my sales. So we tried to calculate… how much it had increased from that incident. We came to a figure of about $ 500,000, and we decided to donate that money to some organizations, BMAC [the Black Music Action Coalition] being the first.

Almost eight weeks after making those comments, however, it remains unclear whether Wallen actually donated the full amount he said he would. In a statement to Rolling stone, BMAC – the only Wallen organization mentioned by name in its GMA interview – criticized the singer, saying they were “disappointed that Morgan did not use his platform to support efforts against racism”. While the group received money from Wallen, they said the figure of $ 500,000 “seems exceptionally misleading.”

Rolling stone contacted 56 other state, regional and national charities run by blacks or founded by blacks. None of them said they received any money from Wallen.

On February 2, the country superstar was caught on camera saying this racial insult. In the days that followed, his label, Big Loud Records, “suspended” his contract – although the actual consequences of that action, if any, were never disclosed – before lifting the suspension in May. Radio conglomerates and streaming services have mined his music from hundreds of stations and playlists. Country music network CMT has deleted its videos. (A source familiar with the situation confirms that the network has not re-added his clips.) His booking agent, WME, abandoned him as a client (a source close to the situation confirms that Wallen remains off their list), and the Academy of Country Music deemed Wallen ineligible for this year’s ACM Awards. The Country Music Association also disqualified him for all individual categories at their upcoming awards, but he won a collaborative nomination for Album of the Year.

But in the days and weeks following the racial slurs controversy, Wallen saw his sales skyrocket. The singer’s album sales rose 1,220% the day after the video was released, while his song sales rose 327%, according to Alpha Data, the data analytics provider that powers the Rolling Stone. Charts. Dangerous: the double album topped the RS album charts for 10 straight weeks, including six weeks after the incident, and remains one of the best-selling albums of 2021, beating pop stalwarts Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish and Harry Styles. (Billboard estimated that in the nine days after the video aired, Wallen generated more than $ 2 million in revenue.)

“We urged Morgan to use his platform to do more than just apologize, but to strongly condemn racism and to support anti-racism efforts and initiatives” – BMAC Organizers

Designed last year As a result of racial calculation in the music industry, BMAC was formed as an “advocacy organization formed to combat systemic racism within the music industry,” says the organization. “Our coalition defends the interests of black artists, songwriters, producers, managers, agents, executives, lawyers and other passionate industry professionals.”

BMAC organizers confirm Rolling stone that they met both the single Tennessee singer and his management without him on several occasions in February and March “in an effort to help him understand how deeply hurtful, offensive and unacceptable his use of the word n ​​was. …. We urged Morgan to use his platform to do more than just apologize, but to strongly condemn racism and to support anti-racism efforts and initiatives. “

The organization says it received $ 165,000 from Wallen in April, adding that “while we appreciate the money, which has been used to provide grants directly to black musicians through our Covid Emergency Relief Fund, we remain disappointed that Morgan did not use his platform to support all attempts to tackle racism. (A Wallen rep declined to make it available for this item.)

In order to try to verify the identity of the musician GMA declaration, Rolling stone reached out to 56 Tennessee, regional and national charities run by Blacks or founded by Blacks. The list was created, among other sources, through Charity Navigator’s Directory of Black-Founded Nonprofits, numerous round-ups of Tennessee charities that played a significant role in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder. , and a compendium of Tennessee charities collected by Give Blck, an organization that has compiled over 700 black-founded nonprofits across the country.

The group of charities includes long-standing national groups (United Negro College Fund, NAACP, Thurgood Marshall College Fund), regional grassroots organizations (Black Lives Matter Nashville, Nashville Black Chamber of Commerce, Gideon’s Army) and focused groups on arts and music (National Museum of African American Music, Memphis Music Initiative, Memphis Jazz Workshop); those who would apparently be the most likely subjects of Wallen’s largesse. Of the 56 charities contacted by Rolling stone, no one said they had been in contact with Wallen or his team or received a donation.

“We remain disappointed that Morgan did not use his platform to support anti-racism efforts” – BMAC organizers

While it is possible that Wallen donated anonymously, it would signal a sharp turnaround from his previous public mea culpas, financial statements and charitable efforts. In June, Wallen gave a surprise performance in Georgia for the Brett Boyer Foundation to raise funds for children with congenital heart disease and Down syndrome. The following month, he launched the More Than My Hometown Foundation to “help children, teens and teens find families who can provide warm, loving homes that can rebuild their self-confidence, self-confidence and self-confidence. feel loved forever, with a family forever. . “

Two weeks ago, Wallen performed at a benefit concert with Dierks Bentley, Cole Swindell and Breland. As noted in a press release issued by its publicist the next day, the event, presented as Morgan Wallen & Friends, raised an incredible $ 725,000 for victims of the devastating flooding in County of Humphreys in Tennessee.

In his statement to Rolling stone, BMAC also berated Wallen for his response to Strahan’s question about whether he believed there was a “race issue in country music, as a whole.”

“It would appear to be the case, yes,” Wallen replied. “I didn’t really sit down and thought about that.”

“We are confused as to how Morgan has not thought through whether there is a race issue in country music,” BMAC organizers say, “given the time and energy that we specifically dedicated it with him to discussing this issue. We would like to be clear: as our recent Bulletin illustrates, there is absolutely a race issue in country music. “

“We started our interactions with Morgan and management by being very direct about our feelings about what he had done, and making sure it was perfectly clear that the word n ​​was not slang. harmless to use. Never, ”said a BMAC board member Rolling stone. “That the word had hatred, violence and blood behind it.” We also shared with him, through personal stories, how the word n ​​had an impact on black people. We made it clear that if he was open to learning, open to education, open to talk, and most importantly, open to helping educate his fans and followers, BMAC would be willing to work with him to create awareness campaigns and initiatives around anti-racism. But that he had to commit to doing the job first.

Wallen’s record in the music industry appeared to be short-lived, with his label seemingly poised to bring the singer back to terrestrial radio, which remains the biggest barometer of mainstream success in the genre. Last month, Big Loud delivered “Sand in My Boots”, the third single from Dangerous and Wallen’s first in over a year, on radio, apparently kicking off Wallen’s comeback. (Several country radio stations started adding Wallen’s music in June.)

“Sand in My Boots” is currently at number 28 on Mediabase’s country chart – one of the biggest week-to-week engines – and is expected to grow rapidly.

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