Morgan Wallen: Photos From the Billboard Cover Shoot

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After Morgan Wallen wraps his sold-out Nov. 10 concert at Atlanta’s Truist Park with a crowd singalong to his 2019 No. 1 “Whiskey Glasses,” he ­enthusiastically roams the edge of the stage, crouching down, eager to get close to his ardent fans. As they thrust albums, cowboy boots and cardboard signs into his hands, the 40,000-seat stadium suddenly starts to feel more like a 200-capacity club.

Wallen has come prepared. He pulls out the appropriate black or silver Sharpie from his jeans pocket and yanks off the cap with his teeth, then autographs each item and poses for selfies. Even once the stadium lights have switched on and people have started to head toward the exits, Wallen is still hanging out. Finally, he starts to jog off, but then stops, turns around and runs back to autograph one more sign — the one that reads “You’re our entertainer of the year” — before leaving the stage for good.

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The sign is a nod to Wallen’s prowess as an energetic, engaging performer — his Atlanta audience had no clue he was on antibiotics and was so concerned about a possible return of his spring vocal cord issues that he didn’t talk to anyone for hours before the 90-minute show, including postponing this interview. But it was also a reminder that, although he had lost entertainer of the year 48 hours earlier at the Country Music Association (CMA) Awards — and weathered a potentially career-ending scandal in 2021 — he remains tops with his millions of fans.

When time allows, the post-show autograph session is a nightly ritual. “I like looking them in the eyes,” a recovered Wallen says 10 days later over Zoom in his first major interview in two years. He’s dressed head to toe in gray camo, on his “lunch break” from hunting deer on the 1,700-acre farm outside Nashville he bought earlier this year with his booking agent and good friend, Austin Neal. He has scrubbed off his camo face paint: “I didn’t want to look like an idiot in front of you,” he says with a good-natured grin.

Read the full cover story here.

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