In his first major concert appearance since he was filmed using a racial slur in February, Morgan Wallen made a surprise appearance during Luke Bryan's concert at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena on Friday, July 30. According to People, Wallen's suprise appearance came after Bryan welcomed fellow country stars Jason Aldean and Florida Georgia Line's Tyler Hubbard to the stage.
Aldean then announced that "a really good friend of mine is backstage," before Wallen appeared onstage to do shots with Bryan, Aldean and Hubbard and sing "More Than My Hometown."
"This is a song about staying true to yourself, and that's been a really hard thing for me to do lately. But, here I am," Wallen said (quote via People.)
Wallen also performed his hit "Whiskey Glasses" before joining Bryan, Aldean and Hubbard for a performance of Aldean's song "She's Country."
Wallen was originally scheduled to be a part of Bryan's Proud to Be Right Here Tour, but in a social media post earlier this year, Wallen announced that he won't be touring this summer.
"I've found this time away to be very valuable to me in many ways, but I feel like I need a little more of it and therefore will not be performing tour dates this summer," Wallen wrote. "It means I won't be playing festivals or the Luke Bryan tour dates. But it's important to me personally, if you can, go to these shows -- support country music. Country music is back and that's a beautiful damn thing."
Wallen previously appeared onstage at Kid Rock's Big Ass Honky Tonk Rock N' Roll Steakhouse in May.
Morgan Wallen Scandal
In February, following the release of a video of Wallen using the N-word, the singer was suspended by his record label, Big Loud Records. His music was also removed from Cumulus Media and iHeartRadio airwaves. CMT also removed Wallen from its platforms.
Wallen later released a video apology, asking fans not to defend him.
"Our actions matter, our words matter. And I just want to encourage anyone watching to please learn from my mistakes," Wallen said. "There's no reason to downplay what I did. It matters. And please know I'm carefully choosing my next step to repair."
In July, Wallen gave his first interview since the scandal. During the interview with Good Morning America's Michael Strahan, Wallen addressed the video and his stint in rehab.
When Strahan asked Wallen why he used the slur, Wallen replied "I was around some of my friends, and we just... we say dumb stuff together. And it was -- in our minds, it's playful. I don't know, that sounds ignorant, but that's really where it came from. And it's wrong."
Wallen said he "didn't mean it any, in any derogatory manner at all."
"It's one of my best friends -- he was, we were all clearly drunk -- I was asking his girlfriend to take care of him because he was drunk and he was leaving," he continued.
Wallen said he checked himself into a rehab facility following the scandal.
"For 30 days, I spent some time out in San Diego, California -- you know, just tryin' to figure it out ... why am I acting this way? Do I have an alcohol problem? Do I have a deeper issue?"
The singer also addressed the continued success of his album Dangerous, which spiked in sales after the scandal. Wallen says he donated around $500,000 to several organizations, including the Black Music Action Coalition.
"Before this incident my album was already doing well," Wallen said. "It was already being well-received by critics and by fans. Me and my team noticed that whenever this whole incident happened that there was a spike in my sales. So we tried to calculate what the number of -- how much it actually spiked from this incident....We got to a number somewhere around $500,000, and we decided to donate that money to some organizations -- BMAC being the first one."
When Strahan asked Wallen if he believed the country music industry has a race problem, Wallen replied "It would seem that way, yeah. I haven't really sat and thought about that."