Sydney, 2022-01-11 13:02:47. Grand Ole Opry under fire for a performance by Morgan Wallen
Nashville, Tenn. — Morgan Wallen rose to the historic and most famous stage in country music over the weekend, a sign many interpreted as the Grand Ole Opry giving the troubled star her blessing and a path to reconciliation after he used racial slurs on camera.
While the country star’s return to the public eye seemed inevitable, a tweet from The Opry newspaper about Wallin surprised fans at her regular Saturday radio show led to fierce criticism of the predominantly white establishment and its history as a gatekeeper.
Artists from Yola, Allison Russell, Rissi Palmer, Noelle Scaggs from the Fitz and the Tantrums, Joy Oladokun and Chely Wright as well as Grammy Award winners Brandi Carlile and Jason Isbell, have pondered how Opry’s decision could have troubling consequences for artists of color in country music. .
“Morgan Wallen’s reckless ride to redemption is the nail in the coffin that realized these regimes and this city isn’t really ours,” Oladcon wrote on Sunday.
Wallen was caught on camera last year using racist slurs, and while some organizations temporarily banned him, he’s back on the airwaves and remains the most popular artist of 2021 across all genres. He resumed touring the arenas last year and released new music, including collaborations with rapper Lil Durk, who is black, and country artist Ernest. Wallen has appeared unannounced on The Opry, which has been broadcasting for nearly 100 years, to sing with ERNEST.
This time the criticism focused more on muted references by Aubrey than by Wallen himself.
“It’s the idea of a young black artist coming into that place and wondering if anyone was on his side,” Ezel wrote. “What many of us consider an initial honor may be intimidating to some.”
For many black artists, promises of change and racial equality within country music establishments remain empty.
In 2021, writer Holly G started a blog called Black Opry to create a home for black artists and fans. It has since grown in less than a year into an integrated community and shows at venues across the country. Enthusiasm for what she created grew so much that places were even reaching book shows.
She met Opry’s talent manager with a proposal to host next month’s Black History month show in conjunction with Black Opry. She said Aubrey’s representative stressed that they were carefully choosing who appeared on their stage.
After Wallen appeared, Holly G wrote a letter asking for an explanation of how Opry felt Wallen met their criteria.
“They’ve figured out that they can invite a few black artists to the stage and give them their debut and that’s going to calm or calm people down a little bit,” she told The Associated Press on Monday. “But if you look at the foundation’s hierarchy, nothing will change. They’ve had two black members over the entire history of the foundation.”
Opry’s publicist did not respond to a request for comment from the AP, and Holly G said she, too, had not received a response to her letter until Tuesday morning.
Shortly after Wallen’s video was posted on TMZ, the country singer apologized and asked fans not to defend his racist language. But his fans rallied their support for him, boosting broadcast numbers when radio stations were pulling him from their playlists. Wallen himself admitted his lack of awareness when asked on Good Morning America in July of last year if country music had a problem with race. He replied, “It seems like, yeah. I didn’t really sit down and didn’t think about it.”
A publicist for Wallen did not respond to a request for comment from the Associated Press.
Playing the Opry—one of the most important institutions in the genre’s history—legitimizes artists, said Charles Hughes, a professor at Rhodes College in Memphis and author of Soul of Country: Making Music and the Making of Race in the American South.
Hughes said Wallen Road, through the Aubrey and the other stages it performs, feels like the “wayward white artist” is being welcomed back into the family.
“The narrative of reconciliation is really powerful,” Hughes said, “and reconciliation without any real reckoning or reckoning, can actually end for the worse.” “Because if you don’t address the problem, you act like it never happened.”
Musician Adia Victoria has noticed that black-faced vocalists have been performing comedies on the Aubrey for years. Harmonica player Deford Bailey, the first operetta instrumentalist at the premiere in 1927, was fired and left the music business. Only Charlie Pride, who died in 2020, and Darius Rucker were officially invited to be regular members. Opry’s management team selects artists to be members based on career success, such as sales and industry recognition, and their commitment to their audience. Wallen is not a member, but has been a guest.
The timing of Wallaine Aubrey’s appearance came the same weekend when Grammy-nominated country star Mickey Gayton tweeted about a racist commentator, while white country star Raylene said in an interview with a conservative radio show that the genre wasn’t racist because she had never experienced racism. itself. Guyton is Black.
Holly J. said: The confluence of all these events in just a few days has been stressful for artists of different racial and ethnic backgrounds, which is why you see the need to create new spaces and organizations apart from long-standing institutions in the genre that provide sanctuary. Make everyone feel welcome.
“We will create our own audiences, stages, and traditions,” she said. “It’s not worth fighting to share space with people who absolutely don’t want you there.”
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