Reigning CMA New Artist of the Year Morgan Wallen may be nominated for a 2021 CMA Award, but he will not be celebrated in any way shape or form at the upcoming 55th Annual CMA Awards.
The Country Music Association (CMA) clarified its stance on Wallen’s CMA Awards ban in a statement to The Los Angeles Times on Thursday (Sept. 30), revealing that the East Tennessee native has officially been excluded from the show altogether.
“This is the first time in the history of the CMA, to my knowledge, anyone has ever been disqualified for conduct,” Sarah Trahern, CEO of the Country Music Association, told the publication. ”Honoring him as an individual this year is not right, and he will not be allowed on the red carpet, on our stage, or be celebrated in any way.”
Trahern went on to explain that the decision was not taken lightly and was re-evaluated on more than one occasion. Ultimately, the organization stood by their decision to allow Wallen’s music and collaborators the chance to be eligible for the CMA Awards, just not the singer/songwriter himself.
“This was something we looked at from so many angles,” she explained. “The decision, ultimately, was the man would not be allowed, but the music and the people who were part of it [songwriters and producers] could be eligible. That made his music eligible in five categories, and ultimately, he was nominated in one.”
Greg Thompson, president of Wallen’s management company, Big Loud, issued a statement to The Los Angeles Times as well, assuring that his client has put in the work to better himself following his use of a racial slur.
“I do not believe Morgan Wallen is a racist; he said a slur while drunk in a non-derogatory way, and those words are used frequently in pop culture,” he said. “Those phrases are unacceptable, and Morgan’s met with Black artists and executives, who I’ve found to be the most forgiving. I’m not saying they condone what he said, but they’re willing to accept his apology and move on.”
The news comes three weeks after Wallen’s CMA Album of the Year nomination was announced.
His record-breaking sophomore release, Dangerous: The Double Album, was included in the Album of the Year category alongside Carly Pearce’s 29, Eric Church’s Heart, Brothers Osborne’s Skeletons and Chris Stapleton’s Starting Over.
According to the CMA Awards, the Album of the Year award goes to the artist(s), producer(s) and mix engineer(s) involved in the album-making process. In this case, if Dangerous is crowned Album of the Year, Wallen and his collaborators, Dave Cohen, Matt Dragstrem, Jacob Durrett, Charlie Handsome and Joey Moi, will each receive an award.
After a video of Wallen using a racial slur surfaced online earlier this year, the Country Music Association announced that Wallen would be ineligible for individual CMA Awards categories, including Entertainer of the Year and Male Vocalist of the Year. However, the CMA Board of Directors amended the eligibility to allow Wallen’s collaborators to be nominated, “so as to not limit the opportunity for other credited collaborators,” according to Catharine McNelly, a CMA spokeswoman.
Therefore, Wallen was eligible to receive nominations in categories that honor artistic works such as Single of the Year, Song of the Year, Album of the Year, Musical Event of the Year and Music Video of the Year.
The Album of the Year nomination for Dangerous: The Double Album, marks Wallen’s first Album of the Year nomination and his first country music awards nomination this year.
Upon its release, Dangerous topped the charts for 10 consecutive weeks and shattered streaming records.
The 55th Annual CMA Awards will air Wednesday, November 10 on ABC.