Morgan Wallen has had some career lows and stunning highs over the last few years - enough to give anyone whiplash. Through it all, he's kept a relatively low profile as far as speaking to the media, until now. "Billboard" has scored an in-depth and wide-ranging interview with the superstar that leaves no stone - or controversy - unturned.
The entire interview is well worth reading; it shows the personal growth that comes from screwing up in public time and time again, and working through it. Some high points:
- Of his 2021 "N-word" controversy and subsequent cancelation: When a video of a drunk Morgan calling a friend the "N-word" surfaced, cancelation was swift despite his public apology. Radio playlists pulled his music, his booking agency dropped him, awards shows deemed him ineligible, and his own label suspended him. But Morgan's fans rallied around him, with sales of his "Dangerous" album more than doubling in the week following the incident. Morgan was apologetic, but angry at how he was being perceived: "I’m kind of actually mad about this a little bit because I know I shouldn’t have said this, but I’m really not that guy. I put myself in just such a sh-t spot, you know? Like, ‘You really messed up here, guy.’ If I was that guy, then I wouldn’t have cared. I wouldn’t have apologized. I wouldn’t have done any of that if I really was that guy that people were saying about me.”
- On his vocal health issues earlier this year: The medical issues that led to six weeks of vocal rest "100% spooked him," Morgan says. When vocal issues sprang up again recently, he was better prepared; he had doctors at Vanderbilt and his vocal coach - who taught him methods to make singing more sustainable - at his disposal.
- On how going out in public has changed for him: “I don’t really go to the grocery store. I have to go through back doors to go to the doctor and all that kind of stuff. I still try to hold on to as much [normalcy] as possible. I like driving, so I try to drive as much as I can by myself.” When old friends don’t invite him to events, it sometimes bothers him, even though he knows the disturbance his presence can cause. And he has found a second use for his camo gear. After hunting, he sometimes leaves on his cap, camo top and a little face paint, just enough so that he can “sneak around, just wherever I can go, maybe a Mexican restaurant.”
- On maturing after his questionable past behavior: Wallen says that the experience in 2021 truly showed him “just how much that people listen to me. I don’t think I realized that, at least not at that grand of a scale at the time,” he says. “I [learned] how much my words matter.” Now, nearly three years later, Wallen says, “That person is definitely not the same person I am now.”
- On life as a dad to son Indie: “It gives me something to focus on that’s not just all about myself because for a while, I had to be super selfish. I had to mostly focus on myself or [my career] wouldn’t work,” he says. But now, “it’s nice to really think about someone other than yourself and about what you’re passing down. He’s my favorite thing about life.”
- On being shut down at country music awards shows: Morgan realizes he can only control what he can control: The CMA losses “bothered me for like five minutes,” he admits. “And then I’m like, ‘Why am I mad? I’m about to go play for 80,000 people in Atlanta.’ ”
Read the full interview here: Billboard