Morgan Wallen has issued a more than five-minute video apology on his Instagram account, saying that the reason for the delay was that he first wanted to issue personal apologies and meet with Black leaders before elaborating on the quick mea culpa he issued when the scandal over his racial slur was breaking eight days ago.
“I’ve decided to go off the grid for a little while and get used to making good decisions,” he says in the statement. “Who knows if I’ll be able to live down all the mistakes I’ve made, but I’m certainly going to try. I’m going to spend some time taking back control of … living healthy and being proud of my actions.
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“Lastly, I have one favor to ask,” he tells fans toward the end of the video. “I appreciate those who still see something in me and have defended me. But for today, please don’t. I was wrong. It’s on me to take ownership of this and I fully accept any penalties I’m facing. The timing of my return is solely upon me and the work I put in. I still have a lot of really good people in my corner trying to help me and I appreciate you more than you know. This entire situation is ugly right now, but I’ll keep searching for ways to become the example instead of being made one.”
Wallen said that when he first was coming up with an apology for TMZ, knowing that the site was about to publish the video of him saying the N-word to his friends, the combination of haste and editing didn’t do him many favors.
“I was made aware of the video being posted to TMZ with hardly any time to think before it was released to the public,” he says. “I was asked if I wanted to apologize, and of course I did. I wrote many detailed thoughts, and only a portion of those got used, which painted me in an even more careless light. I’m here to hopefully show you that that’s not the truth.”
Other than seeming to fault TMZ for abridging his first apology, Wallen doesn’t cast blame outwardly for any of his actions.
“The video you saw was me on hour 72 of a 72-hour bender, and that’s not something I’m proud of,” he says.
One thing he says he didn’t want to do is go on an insincerely motivated apology tour.
“Obviously, the natural thing to do is to apologize further and just continue to apologize — but because you got caught, and that’s not what I wanted to do. I let so many people down. … I let my parents down, and they’re the furthest thing from the person in that video. And I let my son down, and I’m not OK with that. So this week, I’ve been waiting to say anything further until I got the chance to apologize to those closest to me that I knew I personally hurt.”
Although it hasn’t been clear up till now whether Wallen accepted the offers of the Nashville NAACP or BeBe WInans to meet with him, Wallen now says he has been meeting with Black leaders, although he didn’t name any names or organizations.
He says he “accepted some invitations from some amazing Black organizations and executives and leaders to engage in some very real and honest conversations. I’ll admit to y’all I was pretty nervous to accept those invitations from the very people I hurt, and they had every right to step on my neck while I was down, to not show me any grace. But they did the exact opposite; they offered me grace. and they also paired that with an offer to learn and to grow. … You know, that kindness really inspired me to dig deeper on how to do something about this.
“And one thing I’ve learned already is I’m specifically sorry for is that it matters — my words matter. That words can truly hurt a person, and at my core, that’s not what I’m OK with. This week, I heard firsthand some personal stories from Black people that honestly shook me. And I know what I’m going through this week doesn’t even compare to some of the trials I heard about from them. I came away from those discussions with a deep appreciation for them and a clearer understanding of the weight of my words. I wish the circumstances were different for me to learn these things, but I’m also glad it started the process for me to do so.”
One question the music industry has had in waiting for Wallen to further explain himself was whether he would call off the dogs from attacking the radio stations and other media outlets that have nearly unilaterally taken his music off the air, or the virtual air. Wallen didn’t give his audience any specific instruction but did generally ask fans to give his defense a rest.
“I’ve got many more things to learn, but I already know that I don’t want to add to any division,” he said. “This week was a big lesson that sometimes we can do just that without even knowing it. Our actions matter, our words matter, and I just want to encourage anyone watching to please learn from my mistakes. There’s no reason to downplay what I did. It matters. And please know I’m carefully choosing my next steps…”
The country star says he has been sober since the night the video was brought to light — and acknowledges that may not yet mean a lot in the scale of things.
“I want to end this update hopefully on a more positive note. Since that video was taken, I’ve been sober for nine days. It’s not all that long of a time, but it’s enough to know that the man in that video is not the man that I’m trying to be. I’ve had this week to think about times when I’m sober and I’m really proud of who I am and my actions for the most part in those moments. When I look on the times that I’m not, it seems to be where the majority of my mistakes are made.”
The immediate reaction from some in the country music community, as they took to texting late Wednesday night, was that Wallen had delivered the message many of them had hoped to hear … if later than they’d hoped to hear it, and with no quick and easy re-embrace likely to come of it. Some felt that he could have gone further; there was no commitment to go to rehab, or statement that he, too, thought his records should be off the air. But the sight of Wallen as stoic, thoughtful and appropriately broken might have marked a turning point in the till-now eight-day downward spiral of public perception. And whether it was greeted as genuine or even touching or just as cause for further cynicism, his public address was at least something that Nashville traditionally values most: a solid piece of writing.
Wallen wrapped up his message with a familiar biblical quotation: “I’m not trying to be a holy roller or anything, but this week I remembered a passage from Paul that always stood out to me, and I’m thinking maybe a moment like this is why. In 1 Corinthians 13:11, it says, ‘When I was a child, I spoke like a child, thought like a child, reasoned like a child. And when I became a man, I gave up childish ways.’
“That’s what I’m going to be doing the next little bit. God bless you.”
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