Country singer Morgan Wallen, who rose to fame as a competitor on NBC's The Voice, was set to return to the network Saturday night for a performance on Saturday Night Live. The performance would have given the rising country star's career a major boost, but he has been replaced by veteran rocker Jack White. Executive producer Lorne Michaels replaced Wallen on Wednesday after videos of him partying in Alabama without a face mask surfaced.
Wallen, 27, was seen hanging out with fans and kissing some fans in videos published on TikTok. The video in which the Sneedville, Tennessee native was seen kissing a fan was published on Monday, just days before he was set to take the stage at Studio 8H in Rockefeller Center. The videos were discovered by AL.com and were taken at a house party where no coronavirus guidelines were being followed. Wallen faced criticism on social media, but he still traveled to New York.
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On Wednesday, Wallen shared a video from his New York hotel room, where he took responsibility for his actions and apologized. He confirmed he would not be playing on SNL, even though he did test negative for the coronavirus, reports Variety. "I respect the show's decision because I know I put them in jeopardy, and I take ownership for this," Wallen said. "I'd like to apologize to SNL, to my fans, to my team for bringing me these opportunities, and I let them down."
The singer said he thought he "lost myself a bit" while partying. "I tried to find joy in the wrong places and, I don't know, it's left me with less joy, so I'm going to try to work on that," he said. "I'm going to take a step back from the spotlight for a little while and go work on myself. I wish I could have made country music and my fans proud this Saturday, but I respect the decision once again."
Wallen said he spoke with SNL executive producer Lorne Michaels, who was encouraging. He reportedly invited Wallen back on the show in the future. "He probably isn't the first country singer, the first person from rock and roll who partied after a big, in that case, a football game, or a concert," Michaels told Today Show anchor Willie Geist. "We're just living in a different time, and everything is scrutinized."
Wallen made it to the playoffs on The Voice in 2014. He is now signed to Big Loud Records and worked with Florida Georgia Line on the 2017 single "Up Down." His other singles include "The Way I Talk," "Whiskey Glasses," "Chasin' You," "More Than My Hometown" and "7 Summers." His first studio album, If I Know Me, reached No. 13 on the Billboard 200 album chart and was released in April 2018. Earlier this year, he won the iHeartRadio Music Award for Best New Country Artist.