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Morgan Wallen’s controversial career: From his religious upbringing to how he survived being canceled

Morgan Wallen found fame on “The Voice” and quickly became one of the most wanted men in country music. 

Wallen, by all accounts, was dangerous, a fitting word that embodied his writing, singing and care-free persona. He used “dangerous” to name his second, award-winning, chart-topping double-album with 32 songs to prove he was serious about becoming a mainstay in the industry.

The 29-year-old Tennessee native has fought every inch of the way to keep his “Whiskey Glasses” from clouding life but has been caught in a few controversies along the way. He was caught on video in February 2021 yelling a racial slur during a drunken night out, which spawned massive industry backlash.

Three months before, Wallen was unceremoniously cut as the musical guest on “Saturday Night Live” at the eleventh hour after he broke strict COVID-19 protocols by partying with fans nights before.

MORGAN WALLEN CANCELS CONCERT AFTER OPENING ACT; FANS FURIOUS

Morgan Wallen wears red tuxedo and performs on stage at a country concert

Morgan Wallen remains at the top of his game after battling cancel culture. (Getty Images)

Fast-forward to today. Wallen suddenly canceled a concert at Ole Miss after losing his voice, leaving fans furious and even filing lawsuits against the country crooner. 

Here’s a look at Morgan Wallen’s triumphs and tribulations as he takes “One Thing at a Time” with his successful career.

More Than My Hometown

Morgan is the son of a Southern Baptist pastor, and his mom was a teacher. He was born in Tennessee and grew up in the Knoxville area. 

He had a passion for music at a young age and began singing in church while taking classical violin, piano and guitar lessons. 

His rebellious streak began at an early age, which he credited to his upbringing as a preacher’s kid “who was supposed to just be the leading example of Christianity,” he told Billboard. 

“From a child, I was going to do the opposite. I can’t help it. It’s just who I am. Like I’ve got something to prove on my own.”

Morgan Wallen wears cutoff flannel shirt at Dodgers stadium

Wallen grew up in a religious household and pursued baseball before an injury put him on the sidelines. (Scott Dudelson)

Wallen found inspiration in ’90s rock bands like Breaking Benjamin and Nickelback while in high school, which only moderately impacted his musical taste.

“It may not have been the biggest influence in my life, as far as musically,” he told The New York Times. “But once I started writing songs, it just sounded country. And I was, like, well, I guess I’ll sing country music because this is the life I know.”

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Morgan’s passion at the time was baseball. He was a pitcher at Gibbs High School, which boasts famous graduates who include Kenny Chesney, Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne and country singer Ashley Monroe.

His sports career ended his senior year when he injured the ulnar collateral ligament in an elbow, and he set his sights on music.

‘The Voice’

Wallen competed on season 6 of “The Voice” in 2014. He auditioned with the song “Collide” by Howie Day and ultimately joined Usher’s team.

He was stolen by Adam Levine’s team in the second round but was eliminated in the playoffs. 

Morgan Wallen wears a cardigan and tie for The Voice promotional pictures

Morgan made his debut on season 6 of “The Voice” in 2014. (Paul Drinkwater)

“The disappointments just made me dig deeper and figure out why I didn’t win,” he told Billboard. “Some things in life are out of your control. Being the best you can be isn’t. I didn’t feel like I was the best I could have been. So, I practiced harder and really tried to make my voice second nature.”

His time on the show helped him establish a fan base, though, and he began working with Big Loud Records, which released his first single, “The Way I Talk,” in 2016.

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Super stardom came quickly when Morgan was asked to help write Jason Aldean’s “You Make it Easy” and then tour with Florida Georgia Line. “Up Down” became his first song to reach the top five of Billboard’s Hot Country songs chart.

‘Chasin You’

Morgan’s debut studio album, “If I Know Me,” was released in April 2018 and went certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.

The album reached No. 1 on the top country charts with multiple singles receiving mainstream success.

Chris Lane and Morgan Wallen smile at Academy Of Country Music Awards in 2018

Wallen signed in 2016 with Big Loud, which also represents country star Chris Lane. (John Shearer)

Two of the songs reached the top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100, and he earned best new country artist of the year at the Country Music Association Awards and iHeart Music Awards.

Pandemic problems

In May 2020, the “Whiskey Glasses” crooner was arrested after being kicked out of Kid Rock’s bar in downtown Nashville. After reportedly refusing to walk away with his friends when given the opportunity by police, authorities determined Wallen was “a danger to himself and the public” and took him into custody.

Two months later, Wallen celebrated a personal milestone. He became a first-time father. The singer welcomed a son, Indigo Wilder, July 10 with his ex KT Smith.

“Little Wilder, I’m a changed man. Since you came into the world Friday, I see mine differently now,” Wallen wrote in part in an Instagram post announcing the news.

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At what seemed to be the peak of his fame, Wallen was asked to perform on “Saturday Night Live” in October 2020, seven months into the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Days before he was scheduled to perform, footage splashed across social media showed Morgan engaging in non-COVID-compliant behavior at an Alabama football game and celebrating at a bar afterward. 

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He was promptly removed from his scheduled “SNL” appearance.

Wallen posted an apology video on social media and retreated from public life.

Two months later, “Saturday Night Live” invited him back to 30 Rockefeller Plaza, where Wallen not only performed, but acted in a sketch making fun of his bar antics from earlier in the year. 

Morgan Wallen toasts with Pete Davidson, Jason Bateman and Bowen Yang on SNL episode

Morgan poked fun at himself on an episode of “SNL” with Pete Davidson, Jason Bateman and Bowen Yang. (Will Heath)

“I signed on immediately to do the skit,” he told Billboard. “Let people see I don’t take myself too serious. A lot of the people that watch ‘SNL’ don’t know me anyway. Their introduction to me was me doing something they severely disagreed with, so I wanted to let them know I’m human. I got it.”

When the episode was over, he thanked the audience for “giving this poor Southern boy a second Yankee chance.”

‘Dangerous’

His second studio album, “Dangerous: The Double Album,” was released in January 2021 and featured a number of hits. It was so popular it earned the all-time record for longest period in the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s country albums chart.

He recorded the album during the beginning of the pandemic and kept writing music to include on the record. 

One month after its release, Morgan found himself in his biggest controversy to date. 

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In February 2021, a video surfaced showing Wallen using a racial slur while walking home with a group of friends. The “Wasted on You” singer referred to one of his friends as the N-word and used other profanities. 

Shortly after the incident, he issued an apology.

Morgan Wallen strums a guitar on stage while wearing plaid vest and jeans

In February 2021, Morgan was caught on video using a racial slur. (Terry Wyatt)

I’m embarrassed and sorry,” Wallen said in a statement shared with Fox News. “I used an unacceptable and inappropriate racial slur that I wish I could take back. 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.”

Wallen faced backlash online and in the country music industry. Even though he was nominated for multiple Academy of Country Music Awards, Wallen was not included in the ceremony. 

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In a statement released in early February 2021, the ACM announced it had barred “Wallen’s potential involvement and eligibility for this year’s 56th Academy of Country Music Awards cycle.”

He was also dropped by his record label, and his music was banned from iHeartRadio. All seemed OK among his fan base, though, as “Dangerous” continued to break records and Wallen embarked on The Dangerous Tour. He also released new music and began working on a new album.

‘One Thing at a Time’

His third album has already gained success with the latest single, “Last Night,” landing at the top of the Billboard chart since its release in February.

Morgan Wallen smiles on stage during a concert

Wallen was set to perform Sunday but canceled at the last minute. (John Shearer)

He holds 36 spots on the Billboard Hot 100 list, with five ranking in the top ten, making him the first country artist to do so.

But a mishap Sunday put Wallen back in the controversial light once again.

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The “7 Summers” singer canceled his performance at Ole Miss in Oxford, Mississippi, at the last minute after losing his voice.

The sudden cancellation halted what was supposed to be two consecutive nights of performances by one of the hottest stars in country music. Saturday night’s show appeared to be a huge success with thousands showing up for the first concert in the stadium’s history.

Morgan Wallen statement on concert cancellation

Morgan Wallen shared with his Instagram followers that he lost his voice and had to cancel his show. (Morgan Wallen Instagram)

Big Loud CEO Seth England responds to Internet rumors on Instagram

Morgan Wallen’s record label CEO, Seth England, shut down rumors the country singer’s concert was canceled due to Wallen being inebriated. (Instagram/ Seth England)

Following the cancellation, one fan filed a lawsuit against Wallen on behalf of ticket buyers and sought compensatory damages for a possible class-action lawsuit. 

The lawsuit was “voluntarily dismissed” Tuesday.

Another legal claim is reportedly on its way with a new plaintiff. 

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“Tens of thousands of people collectively spent millions to attend this event, and those affected are entitled to know the truth and to be made whole,” the Langston & Lott law firm wrote on Facebook, per WLBT.com.

Shortly after Wallen canceled his performance, a security guard at the venue alluded in a viral TikTok that Wallen couldn’t perform because he was inebriated.

On Tuesday, Big Loud CEO Seth England squashed rumors as “false claims” in an Instagram story. “Laughable what some people will just say for a reaction,” England wrote. 

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