Morgan Wallen's return to country music continues, this time with a surprise appearance at a Luke Bryan concert in Nashville, marking his first major public appearance since his racial slur scandal. Bryan was performing at Bridgestone Arena alongside Jason Aldean and Florida Georgia Line's Tyler Hubbard when Wallen was brought on stage, performing "Whiskey Glasses" and "More Than My Hometown" himself and also staying onstage for Aldean's "She's Country." When he joined his fellow country singers onstage, Wallen was greeted with uproarious applause from the crowd, to which Aldean replied "only in Nashville."
Due to the stage banter from the other performers, it's unclear whether or not Bryan was aware that Wallen would be joining them. "A really good friend of mine is here backstage tonight," Aldean told Bryan onstage. "I don't know if you know this." Bryan had some joking apprehension. "Do I need another tequila shot to get through this?" he asked. Before performing "More Than My Hometown," Wallen spoke vaguely to the crowd about his current situation. "This is a song about staying true to yourself," Wallen said. "And that's been a really hard thing for me to do lately, but here I am."
Wallen appeared on Good Morning America for an interview in July, where he apologized for the video where he uses the n-word that leaked back in February.In a pre-taped interview with Michael Strahan, Wallen said that he and his friends "say dumb stuff together" and that "in our minds, it's playful."
"That sounds ignorant, but it — that's really where it came from ... and it's wrong," he continued, telling Strahan that he did not use the slur "frequently" but that when he did, he did so around that "certain group of friends" of his. He added that in the filmed footage, he "didn't mean it in any, in any derogatory manner at all." The 28-year-old said that he was "not sure" what made him feel that he could use the word and said that he thinks he "was just ignorant about it." "I don't think I sat down and was, like, 'Hey, is this right or is this wrong?'" he explained.
Following Wallen's apology, the president of the Nashville chapter of the NAACP, Sheryl Guinn, told TMZ that she does not take Wallen's apology seriously. After watching Wallen's apology, Guinn said that she believed he regretted getting caught using a racist slur more than he regretted the act itself. She also speculated that he never thought about the true meaning behind the word and that he used it callously. She was put off by Wallen's explanation that the word was "playful" in this context, and said that this was a case of white privilege blinding him to the pain he caused others. She said that for her part, Wallen has not been redeemed satisfactorily.