Morgan Wallen’s Team Explains Where Donations to Black Orgs Went
To USA Today, Wallen’s record label heads and manager have shared the details of how and where the $500,000 Wallen pledged was distributed.
Per Wallen’s manager, Seth England — who is also a partner in Big Loud Records, Wallen’s label — $300,000 of that $500,000 total was donated to the Black Music Action Coalition (BMAC) in April; however, rather than being donated in Wallen’s name, it was donated in the names of 20 people who “counseled” Wallen after his use of the N-word, USA Today explains.
Additionally, those 20 people were offered the option to keep the donations of $15,000 each within BMAC or to use BMAC to send the money elsewhere, USA Today reports. Therefore, $165,000 of the $300,000 stayed directly with BMAC, while the other $135,000 went to, among others, Nashville’s Teen Dream Center, the Young People’s Chorus of New York City and Atlanta’s Right Hand Foundation.
Of the remaining $200,000, $100,000 went to Rock Against Racism via Big Loud Records, a fact confirmed by USA Today with RAR Founder Cory Brennan. The remaining $100,000 “has been earmarked to be dispersed to Back-led organizations in Tennessee by the end of the year,” per USA Today.
“We’ve been a part of Morgan’s life for over five years and are grateful to have gotten to know him and his heart,” say England and his fellow Big Loud Records partners Craig Wiseman and Joey Moi in a statement to USA Today. “We know who he is and who he is striving to be. We’re seeing the work that he is putting in and are confident in the steps that he is taking.”
This $500,000 pledge dates back to an interview with Good Morning America‘s Michael Strahan in July — Wallen’s first since being filmed using a racist slur in early 2021. During the segment, Wallen shared that, in addition to meeting with members of BMAC, as well as gospel singer BeBe Winans, he and his team estimated the money he made when sales of his music spiked after the video’s release and donated it to BMAC and other organizations he did not name.
However, Rolling Stone, in a story published on Monday (Sept. 20), reported that Wallen had, per their research, not donated the full amount of money he pledged: The magazine contacted “56 other state, regional and national Black-led or Black-founded charities,” none of which said they’d received money from Wallen, while BMAC confirmed to RS that they had met with Wallen and his management “multiple times” in February and March, and had received that $165,000, but they added that the $500,000 total “seems exceptionally misleading.”
After TMZ released the video of Wallen using the N-word in early February, his booking agent dropped him, Big Loud “indefinitely suspended” him, and several awards shows disqualified him from being eligible for nominations in 2021. During his time on GMA, Wallen shared that he’d been through rehab in addition to meeting with BMAC and others, but when questioned by Strahan about if there is a “race problem” in country music, admitted that he “ha[dn’t] really sat and thought about that.”
Seven months after the video surfaced, Wallen is promoting a new single from his most recent album, Dangerous, released in January, to country radio; is nominated for Album of the Year at the 2021 CMA Awards, set for November; and has announced a handful of shows that will take place in the remaining months of 2021. Wallen also recently hosted a benefit concert to raise money for victims of a late-August flood in Waverly, Tenn., and in July, announced the establishment of his More Than My Hometown Foundation, which focuses on young people in need.
Best Country Albums of 2021 – Critic’s Pick
There have been many creative country albums in 2021, but not all have hit the mark. Artists are more than ever toying with distribution methods and packaging as much as they are new sounds, so you get double and triple albums, Part 1 and Part 2, and digital EPs in lieu of a traditional 10 or 11-song release.
More than ever, this relied on staff opinion and artistic merit to allow for some parity among major label artists and independents. The 10 albums listed below are not ranked, although the year-end list published in the fall will crown a true best album of 2021.