Morgan Wallen appeared alongside fellow Big Loud, ERNEST, on Saturday night as the emerging country singer made his debut at the Grand Ole Opry. The synonymous band recently collaborated on a new song, “Flower Shops,” which they sang together during the group ERNEST.
The look was first reported via the Grand Ole Opry’s Twitter feed with a tweet at 8:41 PM CST reading “Surprise! @MorganWallen joins @ernest615 to perform the new duo ‘Flower Shops’.”
Almost immediately, the Grand Ole Opry’s Twitter feed was inundated with backlash over Wallen’s appearance due to the perception that the best-selling artist had yet to largely atone for the perception that he was racist, following the controversy in February 2021 over his use of racial slur.
This issue was exacerbated by a tweet dated June 9, 2020, from Opry at the start of the post-George Floyd era/national riots of the Black Lives Matter movement. In it, Aubrey stated, “Racism is real. It is unacceptable. It has no place at the Grand Ole Opry.”
Wallen’s appearance comes after a year in which Opry made moves to feature several black artists on stage, such as Brittney Spencer, BRELAND, and Willie Jones who debuted on The Opry.
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Black artists and performers, along with the white allies occupying the neighboring Americana corridor of the country, took to Twitter to vote on Aubrey’s decision.
“Last night @opry, you had a choice – to either upset one person and his ‘team’, or break the hearts of a legion of aspiring black country artists. I made the wrong choice, and I’m really sad for a lot of my friends today. I’m not surprised, though. Just sad , “Star Performer Jason Espel”.
Espel is best known for opening up seven black female artists to him during an eight-night stay in October 2021 at Ryman Hall (whose song Wallen covered her 2013 cover Me Up in 2019).
Allison Russell, a Grammy-nominated artist and a key figure in the #AllAmericana campaign for the Americana Music Festival, tweeted, “The rot of bigotry that permeates mainstream countries is cruel. But take as #bellhooks said, ‘Sometimes people try to destroy you, precisely because they They perceive your power – not because they don’t see it, but because they see it and don’t want it to be there. # Americana
“Morgan Wallen’s reckless redemption tour is the nail in the coffin that realized these regimes, and this city isn’t really ours,” wrote rising star Joy Oldcon. you want. I don’t know I’ll be doing this job forever.”
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In support of Oladokun’s tweet, Brandi Carlyle, Americana Artist of the Year 2021, made a sharper, more intense statement: “F***’em. The people you want are listening to you.”
Durham, North Carolina-based veteran Black Nashville entertainer Reese Palmer who debuted on The Opry in 2007 (and returned to the stage in 2021) added something of note to next steps in a series of tweets, writing:
“I think now is the time to watch and act. Watch how people respond and react and move accordingly. Systems only work when we keep getting involved in them. The minute we stop and deprive them, they lose their power. I can’t say this enough: let’s stop running. To a burning building. Let’s create platforms and systems that celebrate and welcome us. I will never beg anyone to love/kiss me, nor should anyone else. Anyone who wants to participate in this can come and sit with me. Money and power are all that this industry understands and respects. If you know how to make money and create power, guess who is knocking on your door? The streets of the Black Wall were created and destroyed for a reason, remember that.”
Twitter’s Opry remained silent outside of a seemingly timely tweet at 8:00 AM CET on Sunday. Additionally, as of the printing of this story, representatives of neither Big Loud Records nor the Grand Ole Opry have responded to The Tennessean’s requests for data. The State of Tennessee will update this story upon receipt of communication from either party.
Aubrey’s historical record regarding race includes the 1993 invitation of Charlie Pride to join Aubrey and Darius Rucker’s call in 2012. In 1925, black harmonica player Deford Bailey overcame racial opposition from the director of Grand Ole Opry’s radio station, WSM Radio, before doing so . His first appearance. Opry’s following years also featured black-faced white performers such as Lee Roy “Lasses” White and his partner, Lee Davis “Honey” Wilds, who joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1932. Then, by 1967, the previously mentioned Pride made his debut in Aubrey. In recent years, artists have featured including 2007’s Palmer, Mickey Gayton (debuted in 2015), and The Voice’s last runner-up Wendy Moten (debuted in 2019).