Now may be the time for the same regarding racism.
“I’m embarrassed and sorry. I used an unacceptable and inappropriate racial slur that I wish I could take back,” Wallen said in a statement. “There are no excuses to use this type of language, ever. I want to sincerely apologize for using the word. I promise to do better.”
It’s a genre that has a long history of being associated with racism and its symbols.
The good ole boy with a Confederate flag has shown up in everything from album covers to music videos.
Not that there haven’t been and aren’t Black artists in the genre.
From the late Charley Pride to Darius Rucker and Kane Brown, the genre is more diverse than history sometimes allows.
Martin, who has worked with everyone from Michael Jackson to Madonna, as well as country artists like Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Jamie Floyd, told CNN he believes country music was founded in the Confederacy, so true change could be slow in coming.
“That’s Nashville,” he said. “But if you go far enough back some of the better guitar players and artists were raised listening to old blues players, raised listening to black people making music.”
The the ongoing racial reckoning following George Floyd’s death at the hands of police may be why there has been quick action against Wallen.
The singer-songwriter who last year won the Country Music Association Awards new artist of the year award and best new country artist at the iHeartRadio Music Awards has had his music yanked by CMT platforms, iHeartMedia, and other radio stations across the country.
Wallen’s contract has been “suspended indefinitely” by his record label, despite his apology that seemed to follow a playbook of contrition used by other White celebrities that have found themselves in similar circumstances.
“It’s like a mental illness — they can’t help it,” cultural critic Wes Jackson told CNN of Wallen and other celebrities who have been caught using the N-word. “This White privilege kicks in and for a moment they lose their mind. It’s almost like getting drunk. They wake up the next day and they feel so terrible.”
Some in country music have signaled that they are no longer content to be associated with a painful history of racism.
But there appears to be some hope that the industry can and will do better.
Country singer/songwriter Stella Parton tweeted Wednesday, “Country Music has always been racist, misogynistic and homophobic. Don’t believe them if they say otherwise.”
“Morgan Wallen has been called out and it’s high time the Country Music Industry has taken a stand against this type of behavior,” the younger sister of Dolly Parton also tweeted. “Now, if we could get them to stand up against sexual abuse! Just sayin’ y’all.”