Morgan Wallen barred from Billboard Music Awards show after racist conduct
Country star received six BBMA nominations based on sales and airplay, but won't appear in any capacity on the broadcast, as his conduct "does not align" with production's values.
Country star Morgan Wallen's use of a racial slur earlier this year has cost him a high profile appearance at one of music's biggest awards shows.
After revealing select nominees for the 2021 Billboard Music Awards, the production announced that Wallen — nominated in six categories, as determined purely by Billboard chart placements and not a voting committee — will not participate "in any capacity," meaning "performing, presenting," and "accepting," should he win during the May 23 show.
"Morgan Wallen is a finalist this year based on charting. As his recent conduct does not align with our core values," reads a statement released Thursday by Dick Clark Productions and MRC, the company that tracks song and album performance data for Billboard chart rankings and the BBMA nominations.
"It is heartening and encouraging to hear that Morgan is taking steps in his anti-racist journey and starting to do some meaningful work," the statement continues. "We plan to evaluate his progress and will consider his participation in future shows."
In February, Wallen and his friends were captured on video arriving at his house after a night out, and Wallen used the N-word to describe one of his companions. The clip was later obtained by TMZ, prompting Wallen to issue an apology amid the fallout, which included the suspension of his record label contract, removal from radio airplay, and disqualification from the 2021 Academy of Country Music Awards.
"I let so many people down," the 27-year-old said in an apology post shortly after the scandal. "I let my parents down and they're the furthest thing from the person in that video. I let my son down, and I'm not okay with that."
He also indicated that he'd spoken with Black-led organizations, and was committed to working with them on educating himself on racist behavior. He further posted a letter (above) to his fans addressing the controversy on April 13.
"That kindness really inspired me to dig deeper on how to do something about this. And one thing I've learned already [and] I'm specifically sorry for is that it matters," he said in the video. "My words matter. A word can truly hurt a person and at my core, it's not what I'm okay with."
Even after the controversy, Wallen's recent releases — including his Dangerous album — continued to perform well on song sales charts.
Nominees for the 2021 BBMAs include The Weeknd, Dua Lipa, DaBaby, Gabby Barrett, Megan Thee Stallion, and more. Wallen is nominated for Top Song Sales Artist, Top Country Artist, and Top Country Album, among three other categories.
The 2021 Billboard Music Awards air May 23 at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. See the full list of nominees on Billboard's website.
Hear more on all of today's must-see picks, plus what Andy Garcia is watching, in EW's What to Watch podcast, hosted by Gerrad Hall.