Just one year after being banned from country music’s biggest night, Morgan Wallen returned to the 2022 CMA awards red carpet on Wednesday, November 9.
Morgan was all smiles as he arrived solo and posed for the cameras in a burgundy suit with his hair grown out longer than his signature mullet look.
The Tennessee native, 29, came under fire after footage surfaced showing Morgan hurling a racial slur outside his Nashville home in February 2021.
“I’m embarrassed and sorry. I used an unacceptable and inappropriate racial slur that I wish I could take back,” the “Whiskey Glasses” artist said in a statement to Entertainment Tonight at the time. “There are no excuses to use this type of language, ever. I want to sincerely apologize for using the word. I promise to do better.”
Despite Morgan’s apology for his “unacceptable” comments, some fellow country music stars were not so quick to forgive.
“It actually IS representative of our town because this isn’t his first ‘scuffle’ and he just demolished a huge streaming record last month regardless,” Maren Morris tweeted at the time. “We all know it wasn’t his first time using that word. We keep them rich and protected at all costs with no recourse.”
“How You Love Someone” singer Mickey Guyton echoed Maren’s words, saying, “This is not his first time using that ‘unacceptable’ racial slur and we all known that [sic].”
“So what exactly are y’all going to do about it? Crickets won’t work this time,” she continued. “How many passes will you continue to give? Asking for a friend. No one deserves to be canceled but this is unacceptable.”
The Country Music Association took note of the anger among artists and fans by barring the 2020 New Artist of the Year award winner from attending the 2021 event.
“The Academy of Country Music will halt Morgan Wallen’s potential involvement and eligibility for this year’s 56th Academy of Country Music Awards cycle,” the Academy’s statement read. “The Academy does not condone or support intolerance or behavior that doesn’t align with our commitment and dedication to diversity and inclusion.”
In addition to the CMA ban, The Voice alum was also suspended from his record label, dropped from his talent agency and his music was removed from airplay by iHeartRadio and Cumulus Media.
Despite not being allowed to attend the show, his second studio album, Dangerous – which debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 – was nominated for Album of the Year at the 2021 CMA Awards.
“I wake up every morning and thank the Lord for my blessings. Tomorrow morning will be no different. I love y’all,” he tweeted moments after losing to Chris Stapleton.