In his first interview since saying the N-word on video back in February — a plum Good Morning America spot, across from Michael Strahan, on July 23 — Morgan Wallen claimed he had donated around $500,000 to organizations supporting Black people and musicians. The disgraced country singer said the amount was from sales for his blockbuster album, Dangerous, that he’d earned since the video incident. But now, a new report in Rolling Stone is casting doubt on that figure, along with Wallen’s larger promise to work with Black-led organizations and on anti-racism causes. The magazine reported that the Black Music Action Coalition, which Wallen told GMA he had worked with and donated to, received $165,000 from the musician in April, putting the money toward COVID grants for Black musicians. Wallen didn’t mention any other groups in that interview, and 56 other Black-led and -founded charities since told Rolling Stone that they had not received donations from Wallen. BMAC told the magazine that Wallen’s claimed $500,000 in donations “seems exceptionally misleading.”
Moreover, BMAC said it was “disappointed that Morgan has not used his platform to support any anti-racism endeavors.” The group met with Wallen in February and March after the video surfaced, as Wallen claimed he had been talking with “amazing Black organizations” in the wake of the incident. “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 group said. The statement continued, “We made clear that if he was open to learning, open to education, open to speaking up, and most importantly, open to helping educate his fans and followers, BMAC would be open to working with him to create awareness campaigns and initiatives around anti-racism. But that he first had to commit to doing the work.”
BMAC went on to call out Wallen’s response in his GMA interview as to whether “there is a race problem in country music, overall.” At the time, the singer replied, “I mean, it would seem that way, yeah. You know, I haven’t really sat and thought about that.” The group said, “We are confused as to how Morgan has not given any thought as to whether there is a race problem in country music, given the amount of time and energy we have specifically spent with him discussing this very issue.” Citing its own report card on the music industry, released in June, BMAC added, “there absolutely is a race problem in country music.”
This scrutiny on Wallen’s actions comes as the country industry is appearing to welcome the singer back into the fold. His song “Sand in My Boots,” off Dangerous, was serviced to country radio in late August, in an attempt to lift his radio “ban” after the N-word video. It since became the most added country song of the week on September 8, according to Mediabase, and is steadily rising on the charts, sitting at No. 26 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart. Also on September 8, Wallen performed a benefit concert for recent flooding in Tennessee, sharing a lineup with musicians including Dierks Bentley, Cole Swindell, Hardy, Lainey Wilson, and others as “Morgan Wallen and Friends,” and raising over $725,000, per Music Row. The next day, Wallen received his first country-award nomination since the video: Album of the Year at the Country Music Association Awards, for Dangerous. The group had said Wallen would not be eligible in solo categories, like Entertainer and Male Vocalist of the Year, but would remain eligible in song and album categories to recognize his collaborators.