During Sunday’s Billboard Music Awards, Morgan Wallen gave her first major awards performance since being caught on camera using a racial slur.
Wallen’s performance at the 2022 show follows his previous ban from the ceremony amid backlash over a February 2021 video in which he can be heard shouting the words N and other obscene words.
The country singer, who has won four awards this year, took the stage to perform “Don’t Think Jesus” before moving on to perform “Wasted on You”. He has not addressed his past controversies.
Later in the night, Wallen took the win for top male country artist. “I have the most goddamn fans. Thank you mom for asking me out tonight. I wouldn’t be here without you. Thanks to Billboards for inviting me here,” he said. He also thanked his family, friends and son for “inspiring” him.
The producer of BBMA MRC Live & Alternative said the decision to place Wallen on the stage was made after extensive internal discussions. “We oppose discrimination, harassment or racism of any kind,” the MRC said in a statement obtained by The Hollywood Reporter. “We believe in treating everyone with dignity and respect. After thorough review and close discussions internally and with the artist team, in which we recognize an demonstrated and ongoing commitment to meaningful work and outreach, we extended invitations to participate in this year’s program. “
The Billboard Music Awards are produced by MRC Live & Alternative, a division of MRC, which is a co-owner of The Hollywood Reporter through a joint venture with Penske Media titled P-MRC.
Before the show, Sean “Diddy” Combs, who is hosting and executive producing the Billboard Music Awards, mentioned Wallen and Travis Scott joining the lineup – at Scott’s Astroworld Festival in Houston in September. 11 years ago, 10 people died and hundreds were injured.
“Everyone makes mistakes. Now we are continuing with love and respect for all those hurt or affected. It’s time to forgive. So that Morgan and Travis could come back and touch the stage again with the thought of a second chance at life. Everyone in the room got a second chance at life, you know, because we went back inside without the mask on. We need love and I’m excited about celebrating that,” Combs said in an interview with Billboards.
In an appearance on Good Morning America Last July, in his first television interview about the footage released, Wallen revealed that he checked himself into rehab after the incident. The male singer also shared that the scene was taken while he was at “72 hours out of 72 hours”.
Wallen also said that he doesn’t use profanity very often, just around a “certain group of friends” who “say stupid things together.” “It was — in our minds, it was very playful,” says Wallen. “That sounds ignorant, but it’s – that’s really where it comes from.”
Following the release of the N-word footage, the singer’s recording contract with Big Loud Records was suspended indefinitely and CMT has announced that it will remove the singer’s appearance from its platforms. iHeart Media also pulled Wallen’s music and content from its stations, while SiriusXM and Pandora removed the singer’s music from their playlists, according to a SiriusXM spokesperson. Wallen was also recently disqualified by WME.
Last year, Wallen took home the Billboard Music Awards for top country artist, male country artist and top country album. In March, Wallen won Album of the Year at the Academy Country Music Awards Danger: Double Albuma year after he was removed from the ACM vote.
This year, he’s a finalist in four categories, including Top Billboard 200 Artist, Top Country Artist, Top Male Country Artist, and Top Billboard 200 Album. Wallen’s Album Danger: Double Albumhas topped the top country album chart for a record-breaking 55 weeks.
The 2022 Billboard Music Awards, hosted by Combs, was broadcast live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on NBC and Peacock.
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