On Good Morning America, country singer Morgan Wallen told Michael Strahan that his past "playful" use of the N-word was "wrong" and "ignorant"

Advertisement
Morgan Wallen
Credit: Terry Wyatt/Getty Images

Morgan Wallen is addressing his past use of a racial slur and says he's worked on himself since the controversy.

Back in February, the country singer, 28, and his friends were captured on video arriving at his house after a night out, and Wallen used the N-word to describe one of his companions. 

The clip was obtained by TMZ, prompting Wallen to issue an apology amid the fallout — which included the suspension of his record label contract, removal from radio airplay and disqualification from the 2021 Academy of Country Music Awards.

On Friday's episode of Good Morning America, Wallen sat down with Michael Strahan to talk about the controversy, revealing that he checked into a rehabilitation center after the incident.

"For 30 days, I spent some time out in San Diego, California, you know, just trying to figure it out ... Why am I acting this way? Do I have an alcohol problem?" he said. "Do I have a deeper issue?"

Wallen tried explaining the situation in the controversial video, saying that he and his friends would "say dumb stuff together" and "in our minds, it's playful. That sounds ignorant, but that's really where it came from, and it's wrong."

He added that he didn't use the word frequently, and he "didn't mean it in any derogatory manner at all" when he directed the racial slur at a friend while they were "clearly drunk."

Want to get the biggest stories from PEOPLE every weekday? Subscribe to our new podcast, PEOPLE Every Day, to get the essential celebrity, entertainment and human interest news stories Monday through Friday.

In the GMA interview, Strahan, 49, said he has been called the N-word before, adding that the word is used to "dehumanize" Black people. "It makes you mad. It makes you angry. It doesn't make you feel good at all," the former NFL star explained to Wallen, then asking, "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, you know," said Wallen. "But I do understand, especially when I say I'm using it playfully or whatever, ignorantly, I understand that that must sound, you know, like, 'He doesn't understand.' "

Wallen also explained that since "there was a spike in my sales" for his album after the controversy made headlines, he and his team "tried to calculate ... how much it actually spiked from this incident" and "got to a number somewhere around $500,000, and we decided to donate that money to some organizations," including the Black Music Action Coalition (BMAC).

When asked if country music has a race problem as a whole, Wallen said, "It would seem that way, yeah. I haven't really sat and thought about that."

In an apology post shortly after the scandal, Wallen indicated that he'd spoken with Black-led organizations and was committed to working with them on educating himself on racist behavior. "I let so many people down," he said at the time. "I let my parents down and they're the furthest thing from the person in that video. I let my son down, and I'm not okay with that."

Wallen further posted a letter to his fans addressing the controversy on April 13, saying in one part of the handwritten message, "I've made some mistakes, I'm figuring those out, + I apologized because I was truly sorry + have been making my amends."

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please contact the SAMHSA substance abuse helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.