Morgan Wallen Talks N-Word Use in ‘Good Morning America’ Interview: ‘I Was Just Ignorant About It’
Just over five months after he was caught on camera using a racist slur, Morgan Wallen gave his first interview about the incident. During the Good Morning America segment on Friday morning (July 23), the country singer shared how his understanding of the troubling history of the N-word has changed, and what he has done to try and better himself and apologize for his behavior.
"I understand that ... I'm not ever gonna make everyone happy," Wallen tells GMA host Michael Strahan." I can only come tell my truth."
Wallen explains that he'd been partying all weekend with some longtime friends who had come to visit him in Nashville when he used the N-word in reference to one of them. It's that moment — which Wallen previously said came at the end of a "72-hour bender" — that TMZ received video of and published in early February.
"I was around some of my friends, and we say dumb stuff together," Wallen tells Strahan, adding that he does not use the N-word "frequently," and that he "didn't mean it in any derogatory manner."
"In our minds, it's playful," Wallen says. "That sounds ignorant, but that's really where it came from."
Wallen admits that he's "not sure" why he thought the N-word was an appropriate word to use in the way. "I think," he continues, "I was just ignorant about it."
Strahan, who is Black, pressed Wallen on his actions, offering a brief history of the N-word to Wallen and explaining that he's been called the word before. "[It] makes you mad, makes you angry, doesn't make you feel good at all," Strahan tells Wallen. "So, do you understand why it makes Black people so upset?"
"I don't know how to put myself in their shoes, because I'm not [Black] ...," Wallen responds. "I understand that that must sound like, 'He doesn't understand.'"
Wallen's goings-on since his use of the N-word had remained mostly a mystery until his GMA interview, though he did share in April that he wouldn't be touring this summer, but had been "really work[ing] on myself." The singer's Instagram offers proof that he's been fishing with fellow country star Eric Church (who called Wallen's use of the slur "indefensible") and hanging out with some other famous pals as well, and he's popped up at Kid Rock's and other Lower Broadway bars.
Wallen tells Strahan that he met with members of the Black Music Action Coalition, as well as gospel singer BeBe Winans. He also says he and his team estimated the money he made when sales of his music spiked after the video's release — they calculated it at about $500,000 — and donated it to BMAC and other organizations he did not name.
The singer also says that he checked himself into rehab in San Diego, Calif., for 30 days.
"[I was] just trying to figure out: Why am I acting this way?" he says. "'Do I have an alcohol problem? Do I have a bigger issue?'"
Strahan's segment with Wallen concludes with the TV host asking the singer if he believes there's a race problem in country music.
"It would seem that way, yeah," Wallen says. "I haven't really sat and thought about that."
Wallen has begun to attempt to return to country radio with a new single from his newest album, Dangerous. The artist's airplay has slowly (and quietly) been ramping back up.
Wallen's full GMA interview is below: