The Ups and Downs of Morgan Wallen’s Career: A Timeline
Morgan Wallen has experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows throughout the past year. As his career…
Morgan Wallen; John Shearer
Morgan Wallen has experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows throughout the past year. As his career skyrocketed, his turbulent personal life dominated headlines and after issuing several apologies and promising to do better time and time again, Wallen’s latest controversy has turned his career upside down.
Below is a comprehensive timeline of the events in Wallen’s life and career leading up to Wednesday, February 3 when the country music industry denounced Wallen for his use of the N-word.
May 23, 2020:
Wallen is arrested in downtown Nashville at Kid Rock’s Big Ass Honky Tonk Rock N’ Roll Steakhouse and charged with public intoxication and disorderly conduct. Officers at the scene reported that the 27-year-old smelled of alcohol and was given the chance to leave the scene with his friends, however, he chose not to.
July 10, 2020:
Wallen quietly welcomes a son, Indigo Wilder, with his ex-fiance, KT Smith.
July 13, 2020:
The singer takes to social media with the surprise announcement of his son’s birth. Wallen declares he’s a “changed man” and shares a touching message to his son: “I promise I’ll always protect you, and do my best to be an example of a good, godly man just like my daddy was for me.”
September 5, 2020:
Wallen wins Best New Country Artist at the 2020 iHeartRadio Country Awards.
“Thank you to the fans who have really changed my life, especially over this past year,” he said. “It’s been incredible. Even during quarantine, I’ve just felt the momentum and love from y’all.”
October 3-4, 2020:
Videos of Wallen partying maskless around the University of Alabama surface on TikTok. In the clips, he is seen drinking, partying at bars and kissing multiple women.
October 7, 2020:
Wallen is removed from Saturday Night Live for violating COVID protocols. “I’d like to apologize to SNL, to my fans, to my team for bringing me these opportunities, and I Iet them down,” Wallen said at the time. “And, on a more personal note, I think I have some growing up to do. You know, I think I’ve lost myself a little bit. I’ve tried to find joy in the wrong places, and, I don’t know, it’s left me with less joy.”
November 11, 2020:
He’s crowned New Artist of the Year at the 54th Annual CMA Awards.
“Well, I did not expect to get this,” Wallen said in his acceptance speech. “I’d like to thank the good Lord, first of all. I’d like to thank my mama for always being the one to push me to sing, for my dad for always making the sacrifices for me and my family so I could sing.“
He continued, “And for my team, and for Nashville for accepting me into your family. It’s been a great five years since I’ve moved here. Thank you guys so much, God bless you.”
November 25, 2020:
The Tennessee native is re-booked for Saturday Night Live. “Let’s try this again,” he wrote on social media.
November 25, 2020:
Wallen earns his fourth consecutive No.1 single with “More Than My Hometown.”
“Thank you, country radio, my incredible fans and my relentless team for making this our fourth consecutive No. 1,” Wallen told Billboard Country Update. “Also, thank you to my co-writers for collaborating with me on this song and for just being some damn good friends.”
December 5, 2020:
Wallen appears on Saturday Night Live. He performs “7 Summers” and “Still Goin Down.” and appears in a skit alongside guest host Jason Bateman. In the skit, Wallen and Bateman poke fun at Wallen’s wild weekend in Alabama. “They pitched us with the idea [to do the skit] earlier in the week before we got to New York, and I was all in,” the singer explained during a virtual media event in mid-December. “If we were gonna do a sketch, I kinda wanted it to be something like that.”
January 1, 2021:
Days before the release of his double album, Wallen takes to Instagram to share an introspective post reflecting on 2020 and looking ahead to the new year. He shared that he hopes 2021 is “better for us all” and a touching message to his son: “I know I’m always gonna be a little wild and crazy, but I pray that he knows my heart and that I show him a fraction of the love of Jesus my dad and mama have shown me.”
January 4, 2021:
Wallen’s album is leaked by several Walmart locations. “It’s been brought to my attention that some of my music, well my album, has leaked, at some Walmarts around the country,” Wallen said, adding, “Man, I’ve been working on this album for three years. I’ll be damned if I’mma let Walmart do the leaking like that.” Wallen proceeded to leak songs on TikTok, dropping “Dangerous,” “Warning,” “Redneck, Red Letters, Red Dirt,” “865” and “Somethin’ Country” to the social media platform.
January 5, 2021:
Walmart apologizes to Wallen. “We are deeply apologetic to Morgan for this unfortunate situation,” a spokesperson for Walmart told Rolling Stone. “We appreciate Morgan as an artist and understand his frustration and disappointment. We have protocols in place to help ensure new albums are not sold before the release date, yet in this instance his album made its way to the shelf in a handful of stores early. We’re actively removing any albums remaining on the shelves in those stores to hold until the official release date, and taking additional precautionary measures for the future.”
January 8, 2021:
Wallen releases his sophomore project, Dangerous: The Double Album. The 30-track release instantly shot to the top of the charts and shattered streaming records.
January 12, 2021:
Wallen makes his headlining debut at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium. The show was live-streamed globally across his Facebook and YouTube.
January 17, 2021:
Dangerous debuts at the top of the Billboard 200 chart and Billboard Top Country Albums chart and remained there for three consecutive weeks.
January 29, 2021:
Wallen releases Dangerous: The Double Album (Bonus Edition) with two new tracks: “Bandaid On A Bullet Hole” and “This Side Of A Dust Cloud,” songs that were previously exclusive to Target, as well as a live rendition of the fan-favorite hit, “Sand In My Boots (The Dangerous Sessions).”
January 31, 2021:
Wallen appeared in several videos that surfaced online, where he was seen singing on stage with fans and friends at a bar in downtown Nashville. Later that evening, neighbors captured Wallen saying the N-word and other profanities on their doorbell camera outside of his Nashville-area home following a night out with friends.
As he stumbled into his home, Wallen is seen yelling, “take care of this “p****-ass mother******”” then adding, “take care of this p****-ass n*****.”
February 2, 2021:
8:16 p.m. CT – TMZ shares footage of Wallen shouting a racial slur and other profanities.
8:16 p.m. CT – Wallen issues an apology. “I’m embarrassed and sorry, 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.”
10:00 p.m. CT – Fellow country artists, including Mickey Guyton, Kelsea Ballerini, Maren Morris, Kelleigh Bannen, Cassadee Pope, react to the incident on social media.
“This is not his first time using that “unacceptable” racial slur and we all know that. So what exactly are y’all going to do about it. Crickets won’t work this time,” Guyton wrote.
February 3, 2021:
Overnight – Cumulus Media reportedly directs its 400+ radio stations across the U.S. to pull his music from their playlists. According to Variety, the message Cumulus sent to their program directors read: “Team, unfortunately, country music star Morgan Wallen was captured on video Sunday evening using a racial slur. Effective immediately we request that all of Morgan Wallen’s music be removed from our playlists without exception. More to follow.”
Early Morning – Nationally syndicated radio host Bobby Bones speaks out on air during The Bobby Bones Show: “I like Morgan Wallen as a person. This, I don’t like one bit,” Bones said. “I’m also not a big cancel culture guy. But I am a go-away-for-a-while guy… He’s got a lot of self-evaluation to do. A lot. I think he knows that… I am an advocate of Morgan going away for a while. But I’m also an advocate of him learning and coming back and being able to help others. The only way you become not an idiot is by learning why you are an idiot.”
10:39 a.m. CT – Country Music Television (CMT) removes Wallen from their platform including all appearances and performances. The country music network shares the following statement: “After learning of Morgan Wallen’s racial slur late last night, we are in the process of removing his appearances from all our platforms. We do not tolerate or condone words and actions that are in direct opposition to our core values that celebrate diversity, equity & inclusion.”
11:00 a.m. CT – iHeartRadio, the nation’s leading radio chain, pulls Wallen’s music from 1,000+ stations in the United States. A spokesperson for the company says, “In light of Morgan Wallen’s recent actions involving the use of a racial slur, we have made the decision to remove his music and content from our stations effective immediately.”
11:02 a.m. CT – Wallen’s record label, Big Loud, issues a statement saying that this type of “behavior will not be tolerated” and suspends his recording contract indefinitely. Republic Records also shared the statement, fully backing Big Loud’s decision.
12:30 p.m. CT – Wallen’s music is pulled from over a dozen editorial playlists on Spotify, including Hot Country, Pop Rising and more.
12:30 p.m. CT – The superstar’s music was pulled from 21 Apple Music playlists including Today’s Country, A-List Pop, Back Porch Country, Little Big Country and more. His Apple Music Country radio show dubbed Happy Hour Radio has also been pulled.
12:49 p.m. CT – TMZ reveals that SiriusXM has pulled Wallen’s content from their streaming service, Pandora.
1:00 p.m. CT – Amazon Music removes Wallen’s music from their playlists.
2:20 p.m. CT – Country Music Association shares a statement saying that they’ve removed Wallen’s digital content from their platform.
2:06 p.m. CT – Cox Media Group, Beasley and Entercom indefinitely remove Wallen’s music from their radio stations.
3:00 p.m. CT – Following the removal of his music from radio stations across the country, Wallen’s radio play has decreased by 80%, according to Country Aircheck.
4:05 p.m. CT – The Academy Of Country Music shares a statement deeming Wallen ineligible for awards and says he will not have any involvement at the upcoming 2021 ACM Awards.
Lauren Jo Black
Lauren Jo Black, a University of Central Florida graduate, has immersed herself in the world of country music for over 15 years. In 2008, she co-founded CountryMusicIsLove, eventually selling it to a major record label in 2015. Following the rebranding of the website to Sounds Like Nashville, Black served as Editor-in-Chief for two and a half years. Currently, she assumes the role of Editor-in-Chief at Country Now and oversees Country Now’s content and digital footprint. Her extensive experience also encompasses her previous role as a Country Music Expert Writer for Answers.com and her work being featured on Forbes.com. She’s been spotlighted among Country Aircheck’s Women of Influence and received the 2012 Rising Star Award from the University of Central Florida. Black also spent time in front of the camera as host of Country Now Live, which brought live music directly to fans in 2021 when the majority of concerts were halted due to the pandemic. During this time, she hosted 24 weeks of live concerts via Country Now Live on Twitch with special guests such as Lady A, Dierks Bentley, Jordan Davis, Brett Young, and Jon Pardi. Over the course of her career, she has had the privilege of conducting interviews with some of the industry’s most prominent stars, including Reba McEntire, Blake Shelton, Luke Combs, Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Lainey Wilson, and many others. Lauren Jo Black is a longtime member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.