Billboards supporting Morgan Wallen pop up in Nashville ahead of ACMs, 2 months after racial slur controversy

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Multiple billboards supporting Morgan Wallen appeared in Nashville this week ahead of Sunday's Academy of Country Music Awards (ACMs). The 27-year-old singer, one of country music's hottest rising stars, was deemed ineligible for the 56th ceremony after he was caught on video using the N-word. Wallen broke his social media silence on Tuesday afternoon, sharing his first post since February's controversy.

Country Now reports there are at least six billboards around highly trafficked areas of Nashville. They all read "His Fans Choice Entertainer of the Year" with a mullet silhouette resembling Wallen. One billboard features the line, "Support That Boy From East Tennessee." A third has Wallen's signature word "GAHT" written on it. A fourth has "Mark 11:25," which is a Bible verse about forgiveness.

A group of fans have reportedly taken credit for the billboards.

While he didn't address the billboards, Wallen posted a lengthy note on Instagram, telling fans he's been working on himself.

"I wanted to let you guys know that I’ve taken a couple months away and feel like I've really worked on myself," Wallen began. “I'm proud of the work I’ve put in, and in many ways thankful to have had the time to do it. ... I’ve found this time away to be very valuable to me in many ways, but I feel like I need a little more of it, and therefore will not be performing tour dates this summer. It means I won’t be playing festivals or the Luke Bryan tour dates. But it’s important to me personally, if you can, still go to these shows — support country music. Country music is back and that’s a beautiful damn thing."

Wallen previously apologized for using the racial slur.

"I'm embarrassed and sorry," the "Whiskey Glasses" singer said in a statement at the time. "I used an unacceptable and inappropriate racial slur that I wish I could take back. 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."

Backlash within the industry was swift. He was dropped by radio stations and Big Loud Records suspended Wallen's contract indefinitely. The Academy of Country Music issued a statement saying Wallen, who was nominated for new artist of the year in 2020, would be ineligible this year.

Wallen's most recent album Dangerous: The Double Album wasn't eligible for this year's awards, though, as it was released after the December cut-off. However, his hit songs "More Than My Hometown" and "7 Summers" both were, and they likely would have received some nominations.

Wallen's fans are very passionate. His album sales surged after the controversy, with Dangerous: The Double Album spending 10 consecutive weeks at No. 1. In the 65-year history of the Billboard album chart, it's only the third time an album has done that out the gate. The last was in 1987 with Whitney Houston's Whitney reaching that milestone.

[Editor's note: This post was originally published on Tues., April 13 at 2:09 PM ET and has been updated to reflect Wallen's new statement.]

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