Luke Combs Apologizes for Confederate Flag Photos: 'There Is No Excuse'

Luke Combs and Maren Morris came together with a new message advocating for racial sensitivity as part of the Country Radio Seminar conference. Morris, who's been vocal about racism in its general use (she recently slammed Morgan Wallen for his use of the N-word) and music genre. Combs used the appearance as an opportunity to apologize for his past use of the Confederate flag in photos.

“When I released the song, there were some images that resurfaced of me,” he told NPR's Ann Powers. “and it’s not the first time that those images have surfaced and have been used against me. And obviously, those are images that I can’t take back. …. Obviously, in the age of the internet, those things live forever. And there is no excuse for those images. … It’s not okay. As a younger man, that was an image that I associated to mean something else. And as I’ve grown in my time as an artist, and as the world has changed drastically in the last five to seven years, I am now aware how painful that image can be to someone else.” He added, “At the time that those images existed, I wasn’t aware what that was portraying to the world and to African-American artists in Nashville that were saying, ‘Man, I really want to come in and get a deal and do this thing, but how can I be around with these images being promoted?’ And I apologize for being associated with that.”

Variety reports CRS executive director RJ Curtis claims Combs originally came up with the idea of having the joint interview focus on racial attitudes and accountability. The singer allegedly called Morris up the day following the Wallen scandal and said they needed to change the topic shortly before their scheduled appearance.

“The music is the perfect way to reach your fans like Maren did with her song,” Combs said, per Variety. “That was an incredibly brave thing to do…. When Maren released her song and I released mine, we were trying to do something positive, and I think there’s always an attempt.to say, ‘Well, you didn’t do this the right way’ or ‘You should’ve done it this way.’ B… I think sometimes when you’re attacked for (your expression) when you’re coming at it with great intentions, that can make you want to clam up in a shell and go, ‘I don’t want to do this anymore. I don’t want to talk about it.’ Because you feel like, ‘Man, I’m, I’m trying to be better. and people just keep attacking me for that.’ I think it starts with the music, and that’s a painful process as an artist because you do have people that want to cut you down and say, ‘You don’t know what you’re talking about.’ But you just have to know where your heart is and know that you’re doing it for the right reasons.”