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Morgan Wallen remains on music festival lineups following backlash over racial slur

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Morgan Wallen's fast-rising came to a halt this week after a video circulated of the country artist using a racial slur.

His record label suspended his contract indefinitely, radio stations and streaming services pulled his songs from playlists, and his booking agency severed ties with him.

But Wallen remains on the lineup to headline Country Thunder Wisconsin in Twin Lakes and Country Jam USA in Eau Claire this July. He's also scheduled to headline Country Thunder festivals in Iowa in June, Florida in September and Arizona in October.

"We do not have a statement regarding Morgan Wallen at this time," Gerry Krochak, director of marketing and media relations for Country Thunder Music Festivals, wrote to the Journal Sentinel, part of the USA TODAY Network, on Thursday.

"At this point, he's still scheduled to play," Country Jam USA general manager Kathy Wright told the Journal Sentinel on Friday. "No decisions have been made. There are contracts in place and this is not a decision that can be made overnight."

Wallen was named new artist of the year at the CMA Awards and, for the past three weeks, has had the No. 1 album on the Billboard 200, "Dangerous: The Double Album."

Cumulus Media sent a directive to program directors for the company's more than 400 stations to pull Wallen's songs on Tuesday evening, according to Variety. That was not long after TMZ first shared the video taken of Wallen this past Sunday yelling at a friend to "take care of this … (slur)," seemingly referring to someone else in his group.


The fallout spread from there. A spokesperson for iHeartMedia — the largest radio owner in the United States, with more than 800 stations — said Wednesday the company had removed Wallen's music from rotation. Entercom, another major radio player, did the same, and a check by the Journal Sentinel of country station playlists across the state Wednesday showed that Wallen songs weren't getting airtime.

Wallen is also conspicuously absent from Spotify's premier country playlist, "Hot Country," as well as Apple Music's "Today's Country" — despite having five of the top 10 songs on Billboard's "Hot Country Songs" chart.

On Wednesday, Wallen's recording contract with Big Loud Records was suspended indefinitely, with support from Republic Records, partners with Big Loud on "Dangerous," according to a statement.

The Academy of Country Music also announced Wednesday it would "halt" Wallen's "involvement and eligibility" at the 56th ACM Awards in April. Both the Country Music Association and cable network CMT announced they would remove Wallen from all of their platforms. Wallen's booking agency, William Morris Endeavor, also severed ties.

There's been condemnation from big names in the country music world about Wallen, from Bobby Bones, Maren Morris, Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson, Mickey Guyton, Kelsea Ballerini and others.

Wallen himself apologized in a statement to TMZ Tuesday: "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.”

But Wallen has issued other mea culpas for recent scandals, after he was arrested for public intoxication and disorderly conduct outside Kid Rock's bar in downtown Nashville last spring, and after flouting coronavirus safety precautions in October ahead of a scheduled "Saturday Night Live" last fall, when videos circulated of Wallen partying maskless with strangers in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. "SNL" booted him from the show, but had him on the show in December.

Wallen has not addressed his racist slur as of Friday morning on any of his social media channels. Comments have been restricted on Wallen and Big Loud's Instagram accounts.

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And there hasn't been any mention of the controversy on the websites or social media accounts for Country Jam USA and Country Thunder Wisconsin, which are still promoting Wallen's headlining appearances on July 15 and 16, respectively.

They're two of four shows that are listed on Wallen's website and Facebook page for 2021, although they don't currently list the Country Thunder plays in Iowa, Arizona and Florida announced earlier. He's also booked for the Tailgates N' Tallboys Festival in Peoria, Illinois, on June 3, and the Country Concert festival in Fort Loramie, Ohio, on July 10. The festival sites still have Wallen listed on their lineups.

Wallen had also been booked to open for Luke Bryan's "Proud to Be Right Here" tour, originally scheduled for 2020, and rescheduled to 2021 because of the pandemic.

That tour was supposed to stop at Milwaukee's Summerfest on June 25, but on Tuesday, officials postponed the festival to September, and said they were working to try and reschedule that show and seven others previously announced for its largest venue, the American Family Insurance Amphitheater.

But a Summerfest spokeswoman told the Journal Sentinel that Wallen was actually taken off the tour months ago, and Wallen would not play with Bryan at the Milwaukee festival should Bryan be available in September. The Bryan dates are also not listed on Wallen's tour page or Facebook events page.

Requests for confirmation to Bryan's publicists that Wallen was no longer part of the tour have yet to be returned.

Contributing: Dave Paulson, The Tennessean

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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Morgan Wallen is still on these music festival lineups following slur