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Country star Morgan Wallen has been dropped by his agency, William Morris Endeavor, following the suspension of his recording contract after the singer used a racial slur over the weekend.
It's the latest loss for Wallen, following a Wednesday announcement that the Academy of Country Music will "halt" his "involvement and eligibility" at this year's ACM awards.
"The Academy does not condone or support intolerance or behavior that doesn't align with our commitment and dedication to diversity and inclusion," the ACM said in a Twitter statement Wednesday, just two months ahead of the 56th ACM Awards in April.
A video recently surfaced of Wallen, 27, telling a friend to "take care of this... (slur)," apparently referring to another person in the group while being dropped off at a house. Wallen said he is "embarrassed and sorry."
"I used an unacceptable and inappropriate racial slur that I wish I could take back," Wallen said in a statement after the video was posted Tuesday by TMZ. "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.”
ACM called the situation "unprecedented," adding that "the Academy will be reviewing our awards eligibility and submission process, ensuring our nominees consistently reflect the Academy's integrity."
Earlier Wednesday, Wallen's recording contract with Big Loud Records was suspended indefinitely.
"In the wake of recent events, Big Loud Records has made the decision to suspend Morgan Wallen's recording contract indefinitely," the label announced Wednesday, according to the Tennessean, part of the USA TODAY Network.
According to the statement, Republic Records — partners with Big Loud on Wallen's latest release, "Dangerous" — "fully supports Big Loud's Decision and agrees such behavior will not be tolerated."
Wallen had not addressed the incident as of Wednesday morning on any of his social media channels. Comments have been restricted on Wallen and Big Loud's Instagram accounts.
Industry reaction has been swift. A spokesperson for iHeartMedia — the largest radio owner in the U.S., with more than 800 stations — said they removed Wallen's music from rotation.
CMT said it was "in the process of removing his appearances from all our platforms," via a statement on Twitter. "We do not tolerate or condone words and actions that are in direct opposition to our core values that celebrate diversity, equity & inclusion."
Wallen is also conspicuously absent from Spotify's premier country playlist, "Hot Country," as well as Apple Music's "Today's Country" — despite currently having five of the top 10 songs on Billboard's "Hot Country Songs" chart. SiriusXM and Pandora also removed his music from their playlists, according to a spokesman for SiriusXM.
Country stars react
Mickey Guyton was among the country artists reacting to the news on Tuesday. The singer — who recently became the first Black female solo artist to receive a Grammy nomination in a country category — tweeted, "The hate runs deep."
One prominent reaction came from singer-songwriter Jason Isbell, whose song "Cover Me Up" was recorded by Wallen and is included on his chart-topping album.
"Wallen’s behavior is disgusting and horrifying," Isbell tweeted. "I think this is an opportunity for the country music industry to give that spot to somebody who deserves it, and there are lots of black artists who deserve it."
While other singers like Kelsea Ballerini suggested that Wallen's actions don't "represent country music" as a whole, Maren Morris countered, "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. We all know it wasn’t his first time using that word. We keep them rich and protected at all costs with no recourse."
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. We all know it wasn’t his first time using that word. We keep them rich and protected at all costs with no recourse.
— MAREN MORRIS (@MarenMorris) February 3, 2021
Guyton agreed. The trailblazer described her less than warm welcome from some country music fans, writing, "I’ve witnessed it for 10… years."
"When I read comments saying 'this is not who we are' I laugh because this is exactly who country music is," she tweeted. "You guys should just read some of the vile comments hurled at me on a daily basis. It’s a cold hard truth to face but it is the truth."
In the past year, Wallen has become country music's biggest new star. He's topped the Billboard 200 Album chart for the past two weeks, and was named New Artist of the Year at the CMA Awards.
The year was marred by other incidents. Wallen was arrested for public intoxication and disorderly conduct outside of Kid Rock’s honky-tonk in downtown Nashville.
Wallen responded to the charges on Twitter at the time, saying he went out in downtown Nashville with "a few old friends."
"After a couple bar stops, we were horse-playing with each other," he wrote.
"We didn't mean any harm, and we want to say sorry to any bar staff or anyone that was affected," he added. "Thank you to the local authorities for being so professional and doing their job with class."
Contributing: Cydney Henderson, Charles Treany, USA TODAY, and the Associated Press
This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Morgan Wallen dropped by agency, not eligible for ACM Awards