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Morgan Wallen fans raise money for protest billboards ahead of ACM Awards

13 April 2021 | 12:43 pm | Mallory Arbour

Morgan Wallen fans have raised money for six ‘Entertainer of the Year’ billboards in Nashville, six days before the 2021 ACM Awards.

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Morgan Wallen fans have raised money for six ‘Entertainer of the Year’ billboards in Nashville, ahead of the ACM Awards. According to Music Mayhem, a group of supporters rallied together to start a social media campaign dubbed ‘Movement for Morgan’ to raise money for just one single billboard. However, expectations were exceeded, and they were about to buy six instead.

The fan shared, “This idea was really our way of trying to ‘right the wrong’ of cancel culture. We just wanted to ‘Wallen-Paper’ Nashville during the week of the ACMs to show our support for Morgan! We love him and his music and we wanted to do the right thing! He is an incredibly talented young man and doesn’t deserve what he’s going through right now!”

The same group are planning to fund a billboard to be built in Wallen’s hometown of Sneedville, Tennessee. The billboard will become a permanent fixture in Sneedville, marking the first-ever billboard built in the area.

The billboards come six days before the 2021 ACM Awards. Organisers previously banned Wallen’s involvement and eligibility following his use of the racial slur, which saw him suspended by his record label and his songs banned from radio. The statement read, “The Academy Of Country Music will halt Morgan Wallen’s potential involvement and eligibility for this year’s 56th Academy of Country Music Awards cycle. We have made his management team aware of this decision. The Academy does not condone or support intolerance or behaviour that doesn’t align with our commitment and dedication to diversity and inclusion.”

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Despite the backlash, Wallen’s sales increased by 300 percent in the first week following the incident, even as his airplay dropped by 71 percent. Dangerous: The Double Album, Wallen’s second album, released on January 8, became an instant streaming hit. It opened at number one on Billboard’s album chart and has held strong ever since – extending the record for the most consecutive weeks at number one for a country album. As of now, it has had the equivalent of over one million sales in the United States, including 1.1 billion streams. Wallen has also been named the best-selling artist of 2021.

Last month, Ron Meredith, owner of WMYL-FM in Knoxville defended his decision to put Wallen back on the air, after an overwhelming 92% of listeners voted in an online poll wanting his music back on the radio. WMYL says more than 35,000 individuals responded, resulting in four of Wallen’s songs put back in rotation on 96.7 Merle.

Meredith says, “We were disappointed by the behaviour in the video. But we were also uncomfortable with sitting in judgment. If you’ve lived long enough, you probably have said at one point or another you were glad video and social media wasn’t everywhere when you were young and did stupid things. While nobody liked the behaviour, we are a radio station – not in the censorship business. We changed the music on our station last year, so it focuses now only on what East Tennessee country fans like. So, this situation is like being between a rock and a hard place. We felt uncomfortable with all the different institutions making decisions for country listeners. We didn’t want to do that at 96.7 Merle.”

Other radio stations haven’t followed suit, however. In March, however, Spotify re-added Somebody’s Problem to its ‘Country Coffeehouse’ playlist – with 600,000 followers. The streaming service initially scrubbed Wallen from its curated country playlists in February, but added him back into its ‘Country Favourites’ playlist (with nearly 190,000 followers) in another bid to ever-so-softly reintegrate the singer’s music.

Wallen's contemporaries and peers have also been divided over their responses to the disgraced artist's behaviour. Jason Isbell, Mickey Guyton, Maren Morris and Cassadee Pope all condemned Wallen on social media, calling his behaviour “disgusting", while Jason Aldean recently expressed his desire to see Wallen back “sooner rather than later”, and Jimmie Allen has also called for forgiveness.

As of right now, Morgan is still suspended by his record label and hasn’t really said anything publicly since releasing an apology video after the incident.

For more breaking news from CountryTown, check out here.

Image: Supplied