As Morgan Wallen‘s stock continues to plummet among his peers in country music, fellow artist Jason Isbell has taken a public step in distancing himself from the embattled singer who was recently caught on video yelling a racial slur. On Wednesday, Isbell announced that he will donate all of the royalties he receives from Wallen’s cover of “Cover Me Up” to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). This came just hours before Morgan Wallen issued a lengthy apology and explanation of his actions on social media.
Originally released on Isbell’s breakout solo album Southeastern in 2013, “Cover Me Up” has gone on to be covered by an array of country artists from Zac Brown Band to Aaron Lewis to Rodney Atkins. Wallen’s cover of the track appears on his 2021 album Dangerous: The Double Album which, despite the controversy surrounding the 27-year-old, continues to sit at the top of the charts for the fourth week in a row.
So… A portion of this money goes to me, since I wrote ‘Cover Me Up.’ I’ve decided to donate everything I’ve made so far from this album to the Nashville chapter of the @NAACP. Thanks for helping out a good cause, folks. https://t.co/Ch3FlDBmJf
— Jason Isbell (@JasonIsbell) February 10, 2021
On Wednesday night, Wallen shared a video across his social media accounts in which he addressed the controversy at length for the first time. In the five-minute video, the singer-songwriter explained that he avoided going on an insincere apology tour and instead first met with Black leaders to discuss the issue, though he did not name anyone specifically. He also stated that he would be taking some time away from the spotlight.
“I’ve decided to go off the grid for a little while and get used to making good decisions,” he said. “Who knows if I’ll be able to live down all the mistakes I’ve made, but I’m certainly going to try. I’m going to spend some time taking back control of … living healthy and being proud of my actions.”
Between unsubstantiated claims of working with civic leaders and flimsy excuses for his actions (i.e. this latest incident came during “hour 72 of a 72-hour bender,” Wallen addressed the fans that are still championing him.
“Lastly, I have one favor to ask,” he said toward the end of the video. “I appreciate those who still see something in me and have defended me. But for today, please don’t. I was wrong. It’s on me to take ownership of this and I fully accept any penalties I’m facing. The timing of my return is solely upon me and the work I put in. I still have a lot of really good people in my corner trying to help me and I appreciate you more than you know. This entire situation is ugly right now, but I’ll keep searching for ways to become the example instead of being made one.”
Watch the full apology video from Morgan Wallen below.
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Wallen has been embroiled in controversy since last week when a video emerged of him yelling a racial slur outside his Nashville home. In the intervening days, Wallen has faced a public backlash from fellow artists as well as the music industry itself. His music has been pulled from radio stations and his record contract between Big Loud and Republic Records has been “suspended indefinitely,” though it’s not totally clear what that entails.
Paradoxically, streaming numbers for Wallen’s music have gone up over 300 percent as many of his fans remain loyal to the singer despite the public backlash. Just yesterday, Billboard reported that Wallen has now broken the record for most time at Number One on the Artist 100 chart among country acts.