Morgan Wallen was not invited to this year's Billboard Music Awards after his February racial slur controversy, and six days ahead of the ceremony, a fan-funded billboard has appeared in Los Angeles in support of the country singer. The billboard features a blue background and a hashtag of Wallen's catchphrase, "GAHT," as well as a silhouette of his hair and a photo of a guitar.
A fan named Darleen Ingram contacted Music Mayhem magazine and explained that she and a group of fellow Wallen fans took particular issue with the fact that the Billboard Music Awards put the 28-year-old in a blue box on the website listing the nominees rather than using his photo. "Behind that blue box is a human being," Ingram said. "A living, breathing, human being. He has feelings just the same as you and I do, so to represent him as a 'blue box' is degrading and uncalled for."
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Music Mayhem reports that Wallen's fans say they hold him accountable for his actions but "also believe in forgiveness and moving forward from a situation." The appearance of the blue billboard comes around one month after six billboards supporting the "7 Summers" singer showed up in Nashville ahead of the ACM Awards, which had also barred Wallen from attending and from receiving nominations.
Wallen is a finalist for six awards at the 2021 Billboard Music Awards including Top Country Song, Top Country Album and Top Country Artist. Due to the massive success of the Tennessee native's January double album, Dangerous, which spent a record-breaking 10 weeks atop the Billboard 200, it is very possible that he will win at least one category during the May 23 ceremony, as winners at the Billboard Music Awards are determined by performance on the Billboard charts.
When the finalists were announced in April, dick clark productions, which produces the BBMAs, released a statement announcing that Wallen would not be participating in this year's ceremony. "With our content reaching millions of viewers, dcp and MRC have the privilege and responsibility to effect change by creating a more inclusive dialogue in our productions and across the industry," the statement read. "Morgan Wallen is a finalist this year based on charting. As his recent conduct does not align with our core values, we will not be including him on the show in any capacity (performing, presenting, accepting)."
After the Nashville billboards appeared, Wallen shared a four-page handwritten note with fans in which he wrote that he was taking time away from the spotlight to work on himself and would not be performing shows this summer. In a new statement, dick clark productions shared that "It is heartening and encouraging to hear that Morgan is taking steps in his anti-racist journey and starting to do some meaningful work. We plan to evaluate his progress and will consider his participation in future shows."