Embattled country star Morgan Wallen posted a four-page, handwritten note to his Instagram account Tuesday afternoon, telling fans that he has been working on himself during his time out of the limelight and will not be playing any concerts or festivals this summer.
Wallen’s plans for resuming his career in earnest have been a source of much speculation, as the star has remained quiet since an apology video in February following the outcry over his having been caught saying the N-word on camera. Many believed he would not sit out what could still prove to be a lucrative summer season for country artists after his latest release spent a record-breaking 10 weeks at the top of the album chart, most of that coming after the scandal broke.
“I wanted to let you guys know that I’ve taken a couple months away and feel like I’ve really worked on myself,” Wallen wrote. “I’m proud of the work I’ve put in, and in many ways thankful to have had the time to do it. I’ve needed this time off. I moved to Nashville at 22. I never really gave myself a chance to survey the man I became during that time. I can already see a big difference between 22-year-old me and 27-year-old me. I hope there’s a big difference between the 27-year-old me now and the 32-year-old me one day. I will always strive to be better. Not only has this time revealed to me the ways in which I want to improve, but it’s also reminded me that I am still very proud of who I am and the man I am becoming.”
He continued, “I’ve found this time away to be very valuable to me in many ways, but I feel like I need a little more of it, and therefore will not be performing tour dates this summer. It means I won’t be playing festivals or the Luke Bryan tour dates. But it’s important to me personally, if you can, still go to these shows — support country music. Country music is back and that’s a beautiful damn thing.”
Wallen’s name recently appeared on a festival lineup as tickets went on sale, leading many in and out of the industry to wonder if he was dipping his toe back into the water for a quick comeback. As it turned out, the festival had announced its lineup last fall and didn’t change the roster when tickets were put on sale; sources at the time told Variety that there was little chance of Wallen fulfilling that or any other imminent booking.
In the introduction to his post, Wallen wrote: “First of all I just want to say thank you to everyone who has supported me during this time. I have felt a lot of love lately from many individuals I have met and from so many people I haven’t gotten to know yet. I know my corner hasn’t been the most popular to stand in recently, but many of you did anyway. So many things have happened since I’ve had the opportunity to talk to my fans. I haven’t even had a chance to share my feelings on what has happened with my music and the ‘Dangerous’ album, and it’s important to me that I do that first to y’all. When I made the music, it was important to me that I wrote songs that were authentic and some of them even let you in on my story. Before the music came out, I was proud of it. I felt fulfilled. As a musician that is the best feeling in the world, being happy with your music before fans even hear it. If you feel that way, then you can live with the reaction, I guess.”
Wallen’s post had a fair amount of pride about recent accomplishments as well as resignation to his time-out needing to continue. He pointed out that “Dangerous: The Double Album” stood atop the album chart for 10 consecutive weeks (a stand that hadn’t been made for any album right out of the box, be it pop or country, since Whitney Houston’s second album did it in the late 1980s).
He wrote that “to release this project and watch y’all make a country album go 10 consecutive weeks #1 all genre, is literally unheard of. That’s never happened before from what I’m told. I didn’t even know that record existed to be honest. It wasn’t what I set out to accomplish, but your response has meant so so much to me. I just want you to know how much that means to me, and it always will. I would have been proud of this album had it not done any of those things, but it did. I’m so aware that it was you all who have bought it and played it as much as you have, so I truly feel I share this honor with you. I will always feel the need to show that gratitude, so thank you. I’ve read stories of what some of these songs mean to some of you, and truth be told that’s the best accolade there is. I had to write some of these songs to get them off my heart, so to see them landing in yours makes me feel connected to y’all. A feeling I think we all long for deep down. 2020… man, what a tough year for so many. For me, my tough year carried into 2021. I’ve made some mistakes, I’m figuring those out and I apologized because I was truly sorry and have been making my amends.”
Wrapping up his statement, Wallen wrote, “I’m back in Nashville getting back in the swing of things and you guys can rest assured that I am looking forward to giving you guys what you deserve, especially after all you’ve done for me. My story is far from over and getting back out to see y’all is all I can think about. So just know you’ll be seeing me sooner than later. Love ya, Morgan.”
Wallen’s post accrued over 320,000 likes on Instagram within its first hour.
Country stations have generally continued to keep Wallen’s music off the air since February, with the exception of a handful of independent stations, as Variety recently reported. In the immediate wake of the controversy, the Academy of Country Music Awards removed his name from contention for preliminary balloting, and it’s unlikely his name will be mentioned on Sunday night’s telecast, despite his being the biggest star in country music at the moment by most commercial standards. Industry pros have indicated they were waiting to see his next move before making predictions about whether the singer’s image might be rehabilitated enough for him to contend for, or perform on, the CMA Awards in November.
This story first appeared on Variety.com.