Luke Combs, Maren Morris and Morgan Wallen are some of the biggest names in country music who have been caught up in racism controversies.
Morgan Wallen was recently is seen on a video first posted by TMZ with a group outside of his Nashville home using a racial slur and profanities.
Wallen however apologized and took responsibility for his words in a video message to fans posted on his Instagram account on Wednesday, February 10th.
Luke Combs and Maren Morris, both who have also been caught up in racism controversies, talked about racial discrimination during an hour-long discussion with journalist Ann Powers on Wednesday February 17th.
Combs and Morris were originally booked for a panel at the 2021 Country Radio Seminar to discuss their music career. However, Powers explained at the start of their conversation, following the country music industry’s swift rebuke of Morgan Wallen’s racist slur, the need to talk about racism in the industry.
Combs spoke on an issue in early February when photos of him standing with a Confederate flag in the background and using a guitar with a Confederate flag-adorned sticker circulated on social media,
He said the photos are about seven or eight years old, adding that he knows that doesn’t justify his actions to use Confederate flag.
“I’ve grown a lot as a man and as a human being, and as a citizen of the world. but nonetheless, there is no excuse for those images and I apologize for being associated with that,” Combs said.
“I am now aware how painful that image can be to someone else, and no matter what I thought at the time … I would never want to be associated with something that brings so much hurt to someone else. I want people to feel accepted; I want people to feel welcomed by country music and by our community … Hate is not a part of my core values.”
Maren Morris too confessed to not fully understanding the implications of the Confederate flag and phrases such as “the South will rise again” until she was in her teens.
“Growing up in Texas those are all just terms thrown around; there was no explanation behind it,” Maren Morris said.
“I can’t imagine, thinking back on all the times and places that I’ve seen that flag, if I were a Black man or a Black woman and [had to] just go, ‘This is definitely not somewhere where I’m being welcomed.”
Morris has more and more often tried to her influence to advocate for issues in which she believes as her career has progressed over the years.
The sultry country singer endorsed President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris for the country’s highest offices, supported the Black Lives Matter movement and used a CMA Awards acceptance speech to shout out a number of the genre’s Black women.
“I didn’t really set out to be this activist, In my eyes, my decision to speak up was a little late, but better late than never,” Morris noted during Wednesday’s discussion.
The 30-year-old songbird further called for artists to use their power as performers to ban Confederate flags from concerts and other country music events.
“I see the Confederate flags in the parking lots, I don’t want to play those festivals anymore. I feel like the most powerful thing as artists in our position right now is to make those demands … That’s one of the things we can do, is say, ‘Nope, I’m not doing this, get rid of them,” Maren Morris stressed.
“There are so many things beyond the ‘rebel flag’ that we can do to be proud of being from the South,” Luke Combs added.
Vince Gill separately talked about racism during an interview with Anthony Mason on CBS This Morning’s. He said the that the only way to move forward is by deconstructing the popular view of the values and listener base the genre was built on and for and acknowledging that racism and cultural appropriation are at the root of it all.
Gill emphasized on the need of more artists speaking up against racism. When pressed on his reaction to Wallen’s words, he said;
“It was just sad. It was just disappointing. I knew that everybody was going to massacre country music, and white America, when they make the argument, ‘Well, I hear [the n-word] in rap music all the time …,’ I go, ‘Have you not been paying attention to the last 300-400 years, how that word has been used by the white community?’”