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Morgan Wallen Wins 2022 ACM Award for Album of the Year After Being Banned From the 2021 Show Amid Controversy

Morgan Wallen Attends 2022 ACM Awards After Being Banned Using N Word
Morgan Wallen. John Locher/AP/Shutterstock

Red carpet ready. Morgan Wallen returned to the 2022 ACM Awards after previously being barred from attending in the wake of his N-word scandal.

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The songwriter, 28, accepted the statue for album of the year for Dangerous: The Double Album during the 57th annual ACM Awards at the Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on Monday, March 7. “When I started this album I was a kid. By the time I put it out, I was a father,” Wallen said, referencing his child, Indigo Wilder, 20 months, who he shares with ex KT Smith.

“That’s become more important to me than anything else. To my son, this album and this award will signify that his daddy was a fighter, that he chased his dreams and worked hard to make them a reality.”

After thanking his collaborators and God, he concluded, “Most imporantly, I have to address my fans personally and directly. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I’m blown away by you guys. God bless.”

Wallen earned nods for Male Artist of the Year, Album of the Year and Song of the Year after previously being excluded from the 2021 event. The “Whiskey Glasses” crooner was declared ineligible after a video of him using a racial slur surfaced online last February.

Two months after the controversy made headlines, the Tennessee native assured his fans that he had grown after taking “a couple months away” from the spotlight. “I’m proud of the work I’ve put in, and in many ways thankful to have had the time to do it. I’ve needed this time off. I moved to Nashville at 22. I never really gave myself a chance to survey the man I became during that time,” he wrote via Instagram in April 2021. ” I can already see a big difference between 22-year-old me and 27-year-old me. I hope there’s a big difference between the 27-year-old me now and the 32-year-old me one day.”

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Wallen noted that he will “always strive to be better,” but declared that he was “proud” of the path he was on. “I’ve found this time away to be very valuable to me in many ways, but I feel like I need a little more of it, and therefore will not be performing tour dates this summer,” he concluded at the time, teasing that he would be back on the road “sooner than later.”

That same month, country music fans appeared to protest Wallen’s absence from the 2021 ACM Awards lineup by renting out billboards in Nashville that read, “Support that boy from east Tennessee!” The displays also featured a reference to a Bible verse alongside an image of Wallen’s signature mullet.

The Voice alum briefly faced repercussions from his label, Big Loud, as a result of his use of the N-word and his music was removed from major country radio stations. However, sales of his album Dangerous skyrocketed amid the backlash.

In his first interview since the video went viral, Wallen claimed that he didn’t use the insult maliciously. “I was around some of my friends and we say dumb stuff together. In our minds, it’s playful. It sounds ignorant but that’s where it came from,” he told Good Morning America in July 2021, confessing that it was not the first time he’d said the word. “I didn’t mean it in any derogatory manner at all. I think I was just ignorant about it. I don’t think I sat down and was like, ‘Hey, is this right or is this wrong?'”

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The singer also revealed that he spent 30 days in a treatment facility after the scandal “trying to figure out why” he behaved in such a way. “Do I have an alcohol problem? Do I have a deeper issue?” he explained on GMA.

At the time, Wallen claimed that he had reached out to several organizations, including the Black Music Action Coalition, to learn more about the history behind the word and its continued impact on people of color. The “7 Summers” artist also vowed to make substantial donations to Black-led foundations, a promise he fulfilled earlier this year.

Wallen’s actions sparked an important conversation about diversity in country music, which frequently centers white artists and fans. When asked last year whether he thought the genre has a “race problem,” he told GMA, “It would seem that way, yeah. I haven’t really sat and thought about that.”

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