Morgan Wallen

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Morgan Wallen
Wallen performing in September 2018
Wallen performing in September 2018
Background information
Birth nameMorgan Cole Wallen
Born (1993-05-13) May 13, 1993 (age 28)
Sneedville, Tennessee
Genres
Occupation(s)
  • songwriter
Instruments
  • Vocals
  • piano[3]
  • violin[4]
  • guitar
Years active2014–present
Labels
Websitemorganwallen.com

Morgan Cole Wallen (born May 13, 1993) is an American country music singer and songwriter. Born in Tennessee, he competed in the sixth season of The Voice, originally as a member of Usher's team, but later as a member of Adam Levine's team. After being eliminated in the playoffs of that season, he signed to Panacea Records, releasing his debut EP, Stand Alone, in 2015.

In 2016, Wallen signed to Big Loud, releasing his debut album, If I Know Me, in 2018.[5] The album includes the singles "Up Down" (featuring Florida Georgia Line), "Whiskey Glasses", and "Chasin' You". If I Know Me reached No. 1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart.[6] Wallen's second album, Dangerous: The Double Album, was released in January 2021, and in February 2021 became the only country album in the 64-year history of the Billboard 200 to spend its first seven weeks at No. 1.[7] It went on to spend a total of ten weeks at that spot, the first album to do so since Whitney Houston's Whitney in 1987.[8] The album included Billboard No. 1 singles "More Than My Hometown", "7 Summers", and "Wasted on You".[9]

Wallen has gained considerable notoriety for several incidents. He was arrested for disorderly conduct after being ejected from Kid Rock's steakhouse in Nashville in May 2020,[10] and was suspended from a scheduled Saturday Night Live performance that October after video evidence surfaced that showed Wallen was not adhering to NBC's COVID-19 protocols.[11] In February 2021, a video was released that captured Wallen saying a racial slur. The incident resulted in suspension from his record label and removal of his music from several major radio networks in the United States.[12] Despite the controversy, Wallen's music experienced a surge in commercial success following the incident.[13]

Early life[edit]

Morgan Wallen was born to Tommy and Lesli Wallen on May 13, 1993 in Sneedville, Tennessee.[14] As a child, Wallen took piano and violin lessons. He aspired to play baseball in college, but after injuring his elbow he chose to pursue music.[15]

Career[edit]

2014: The Voice[edit]

In 2014, Wallen competed on Season 6 of The Voice, initially as part of Usher's team and later Adam Levine's team. He was eliminated during the playoffs.[15]

2015: Panacea Records and Stand Alone EP[edit]

While in California to appear on The Voice, Wallen began working with Sergio Sanchez of Atom Smash. Sanchez introduced Wallen to Bill Ray and Paul Trust of Panacea Records.[16] In 2015, Wallen signed to Panacea Records where he released an EP Stand Alone on August 24, 2015. "Spin You Around" was Wallen's debut single under Panacea Records and was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America on April 21, 2021.[17] In 2015, Wallen's manager, Dirk Hemsath of Working Group Artist Management, sent a demo of Wallen to Big Loud Shirt’s Seth England, who had Wallen audition for his partners in Big Loud Records. They signed Wallen to the label and the publishing company.[16]

2016–2019: Big Loud Records and If I Know Me[edit]

In 2016, Wallen signed to Big Loud Records where he released his debut single "The Way I Talk".[18] He co-wrote the A Thousand Horses single "Preachin' to the Choir".[15] In April 2017, Wallen released a music video for "The Way I Talk".[19] He joined Florida Georgia Line on their Dig Your Roots Tour.[15] In 2017, Wallen co-wrote the Jason Aldean single "You Make It Easy" with Florida Georgia Line's Tyler Hubbard, Brian Kelley and Jordan Schmidt.[20]

On April 27, 2018, Wallen released his debut album, If I Know Me.[21] The second single from the album, "Up Down", recorded with Florida Georgia Line, peaked at No. 16 on Billboard.[22] On July 30, 2018, Wallen released the album's third single, "Whiskey Glasses."[23] The song reached No. 1 on Country Airplay in June 2019 and was Billboard's 2019 top Hot Country song and Top Country Airplay song.[24] In 2019, Wallen joined Florida Georgia Line on their Can't Say I Ain't Country Tour.[25] On December 3, 2018, Wallen appeared in an episode of WWE Raw.[26] Wallen single "Chasin' You" was released in July 2019 and peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard charts.[27][9] Wallen was a co-writer on Dallas Smith's song "The Fall".[28]

In August 2020, If I Know Me reached No. 1 on the Top Country Albums chart after a record-breaking 114 weeks.

2020–present: Dangerous[edit]

On May 27, 2020, Wallen released "More Than My Hometown" to country radio as the lead single to his upcoming second studio album. On August 14, Wallen released the song "7 Summers" and it broke the record for the most first day streams for a country song on Apple Music. It earned him his first top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, debuting and peaking at number six.[29] The song was also chosen by the Time as one of the best songs of 2020.[30] On November 11, Wallen announced that his second album would be a double album titled Dangerous: The Double Album, set for release on January 8, 2021.[31] Wallen announced the release date for the album as an Easter egg in the short film for "7 Summers".

The Double Albumdebuted atop the US Billboard 200 and the Canadian Albums Chart.[32][33] It would remain atop the Canadian chart for four consecutive weeks, and the US chart for six consecutive weeks, marking the first new album from a country artist to do that since Garth Brooks' The Chase in 1992.[34][35][36][37] Wallen graced the cover of Billboard, whose headline read: "Is Morgan Wallen Country's Next Global Star?".[38] Wallen soon became the first artist to ever chart six songs within the top 10 of Hot Country Songs at the same time in the week after his album's release, with "Wasted on You", "More Than My Hometown", "Somebody's Problem", "7 Summers", "Sand in My Boots", and "Warning".[39] Wallen also charted 23 tracks from the album on the Canadian Hot 100,[40] and 19 tracks on the Hot 100 in the U.S., including "Cover Me Up" and "This Bar".[41] Despite his racial slur controversy in early February, Wallen remained wildly popular.[42] In the week following the controversy, album sales of Dangerous: The Double Album surged. In some cases, the physical as well as digital album sales went up over 100% in the week following the controversy.[43] During the week of February 13, 2021, Wallen remained atop the Billboard charts despite the controversy; Dangerous: The Double Album remained atop the Billboard 200 chart, and Wallen's debut album If I Know Me entered the top 10 for the first time.[44] In the following weeks, Dangerous: The Double Album remained number one on the Billboard 200, and as a result, Wallen captured the most weeks atop the chart for a male artist since Drake's Views in 2016.[34]

Controversies[edit]

In May 2020, Wallen was arrested outside Kid Rock's bar in downtown Nashville for public intoxication and disorderly conduct.[45][46] Wallen apologized on social media for his conduct.[47]

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Wallen received backlash on social media after TikTok videos emerged of him partying at a bar in Tuscaloosa, Alabama,[2] following the Alabama vs. Texas A&M football game. The game was played on October 3, 2020, a week before his scheduled debut on Saturday Night Live on October 10, 2020. In the videos, Wallen was shown maskless, violating social distancing guidelines, singing at a house party, and kissing women.[48][49][50] On October 7, Wallen announced that the producers of SNL had postponed his appearance for violating the show's COVID-19 protocols.[2] Wallen went on to appear as musical guest on the December 5 episode. He appeared in a sketch that parodied the controversy.[51]

On February 2, 2021, TMZ released a video recorded on January 31 showing Wallen using the word "nigger" with friends as they were entering his Nashville home.[52][53] Wallen then issued a statement apologizing for using the racial slur.[54] As a result of the incident, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, iHeartRadio, Entercom (now Audacy, Inc.), Cumulus, and Townsquare temporarily removed Wallen's music from airplay on their stations. Wallen's songs and promotional photographs were also removed from Apple Music, Pandora and Spotify featured playlists,[55][56] though Spotify later re-added Wallen's music back to their playlists one week later.[57] CMT and the Country Music Association removed Wallen's appearances from their platforms, and Wallen's record label Big Loud (and partner Republic Records) suspended its recording contract with him indefinitely.[58][59] On February 3, 2021, the Academy of Country Music announced that Wallen and his latest album Dangerous: The Double Album would be ineligible for the 56th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards.[60][61] On February 10, 2021, Wallen videoed an apology in which he asked his fans not to defend him.[62] That same day, Jason Isbell, the original singer of "Cover Me Up" announced that he would be donating all of the royalties from Wallen's cover to the NAACP.[63] Despite the controversy and ensuing backlash, Wallen's music remained popular, with his album sales in fact surging after the incident.[13][42] On July 23, 2021, Wallen publicly spoke of his comments on Good Morning America, where he said that "[he] was around some of [his] friends, and [they] say dumb stuff together" and said that "he was wrong" to express those words.[64] Wallen's songs returned to country radio in August 2021 when his single "Sand in My Boots" was released.[65]

Discography[edit]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Association Category Nominated Work Result Ref.
2019 CMT Music Awards Breakthrough Video of the Year "Whiskey Glasses" Nominated [66]
Country Music Association Awards New Artist of the Year Himself Nominated [67]
2020 Academy of Country Music Awards New Male Artist of the Year Himself Nominated [68]
Country Music Association Awards New Artist of the Year Himself Won
iHeartRadio Music Awards Country Song of The Year "Whiskey Glasses" Nominated
Best New Country Artist Himself Won
Billboard Music Awards Top Country Song "Whiskey Glasses" Nominated
Top Country Album If I Know Me Nominated
CMT Music Awards Male Video of the Year "Chasin You' (Dream Video)" Nominated
American Music Awards Favorite Male Artist-Country Himself Nominated
Favorite Album-Country If I Know Me Nominated
2021 Billboard Music Awards Top Song Sales Artist Himself Nominated [69]
Top Country Artist Himself Won
Top Country Male Artist Himself Won
Top Country Album Morgan Wallen, Dangerous: The Double Album Won
Top Country Song Morgan Wallen, "Chasin' You" Nominated
Country Music Association Awards Album of the Year Dangerous: The Double Album Pending [70]

References[edit]

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