In a brand new interview, the top-selling singer spoke candidly about the February incident.
“My manager called me two hours before the video came out and was like, ‘Are you sitting down?’ No one has ever called me and said that to me before.”
The exclusive interview with Good Morning America’s Michael Strahan is the first time Morgan Wallen has been interviewed directly about his use of the N-word in a viral video captured outside his home earlier this year.
Wallen explained to Strahan that he was remorseful for his use of the racial epithet and explained that the actions came after binge drinking for several days with his friends.
“I had some of my longtime friends in town and we had been partying that weekend and we figured we’d just go hard for the two or three days that they were there,” Wallen said.
Strahan pointedly asked Wallen if he understood the deep impact of using a slur like that – and repeated the question several times throughout the interview based on how the singer had responded.
“When I say I used it playfully I understand that that makes it sound like I don’t understand. I think I was just ignorant about it. I don’t think I ever sat down and said ‘this is right or this is wrong’.”
The footage captured by a neighbor shows Wallen outside his home with friends when he uses the racial slur in reference to one of the friends (who is white.)
After the video was published on the internet, a massive wave of backlash began and Wallen was dropped from his record label, his music was banned by radio stations, streaming services, and other networks, and multiple awards shows removed him from being an eligible artist.
In spite of all this, his recently released double album still continued to break sales records and spent 24 weeks at the top of the charts.
“Me and my team noticed that when the incident happened there was a spike in my sales. We tried to calculate how much it actually spiked from this incident and we got to a number around $500,000 and we decided to donate that money to some organizations, BMAC (Black Music Action Coalition) being one,” Wallen said, addressing the rise in sales.
Strahan then directly asked Wallen if he believes that the massive rise in sales after the incident means country music has a race problem. To which Wallen admitted, “It would seem that way, I haven’t really sat and thought about that.”
“There’s going to be a lot of people who are going to watch this and say, ‘he’s only sitting down because he wants to clean up his image. It’s all a performance.’ So what do you say to that?,” Strahan asked.
“I understand that. I’m not ever going to make everyone happy. I can only come tell my truth and that’s all I know to do.”
Watch the full interview below.