Video Surfaces of Morgan Wallen Using N-Word, Issues Apology

Morgan Wallen. Photo: John Shearer

In a video obtained by TMZ and posted late Tuesday (Feb. 2) night, Morgan Wallen is seen coming home from a night out when he uses a racial slur while speaking to his friend. The video was reportedly shot Sunday (Jan. 31) night outside Wallen’s Nashville home by neighbors and shows him yelling profanities, including the N-word.

Big Loud Records has suspended Wallen’s recording contract indefinitely. Wallen has also been dropped from WME’s talent roster.

Wallen issued an apology to TMZ, “I’m embarrassed and sorry. I used an unacceptable and inappropriate racial slur that I wish I could take back. There are no excuses to use this type of language, ever. I want to sincerely apologize for using the word. I promise to do better.” MusicRow has confirmed its authenticity.

The video has surfaced following weeks of a very successful launch of his sophomore album, Dangerous: The Double Album. The Big Loud/Republic Records artist is unquestionably the biggest breakout star in the country format this year, with Dangerous garnering accolades including being the first country album to spend three weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in eight years; as well as debuting at No. 1 atop the Billboard 200 Albums chart and earning the largest streaming week for a country album in history.

Wallen’s music has notably disappeared from Spotify’s Hot Country and Apple Music’s Today’s Country playlist. Variety reports that his music has been removed from Cumulus Media 400-plus stations, with a directive to the program directors from Brian Philips, EVP of programming for the chain, and John Dimick, the company’s head of programming operations. iHeartMedia has also pulled his music from their stations, MusicRow has confirmed.

The Academy of Country Music announced they will halt Wallen’s potential involvement and eligibility for this year’s ACM Awards.

On Feb. 4, BMI issued the following statement: “BMI condemns the hateful and offensive racial slur recently used by Morgan Wallen. While unacceptable, under the terms of our consent decree, BMI is mandated to accept all songwriters who want to be a part of our organization. We have asked BMI’s Advisor and Gospel legend, BeBe Winans, to reach out to Morgan to help him understand the gravity and impact of his words. Our hope is that BeBe’s outreach can help Morgan become a more inclusive and empathetic person.”

In a Tweet, CMT announced that they will be removing his appearances from all their platforms.

The CMA announced they, to, would be removing his digital content from their platform


Wallen’s country music peers Kelsea Ballerini, Maren Morris, Mickey Guyton, Will Hoge and more have issued early reactions about the incident.

Tyler Childers Signs With Warner Chappell Music

Tyler Childers

Tyler Childers has signed a global publishing deal with Warner Chappell Music Nashville.

Childers first broke onto the scene in 2017 with Purgatory, which was co-produced by Sturgill Simpson and David Ferguson. The album earned Childers the title of Emerging Artist of the Year at the 2018 Americana Honors & Awards and was named one of the Top 50 Albums of 2017 by NPR. He followed that up in 2019 with the critically-acclaimed Country Squire, which landed him a 2020 Grammy nod for Best Country Solo for “All Your’n.”

Last year the Kentucky native released his surprise album, Long Violent History, whose title track addresses systemic racism by speaking directly to white rural voters. All proceeds from the album go to the Hickman Holler Appalachian Relief Fund, which Childers and his wife established to raise awareness and money for philanthropic efforts in the Appalachian Region.

“Nashville is home to world-class songwriters and Tyler is undoubtedly one of the best,” said Ben Vaughn, President & CEO, Warner Chappell Music Nashville. “His poignant words do what great music can do—move us, invite self-reflection, and spark conversations. Long Violent History is a testament to the power of his music and I’m thrilled to have him join the Warner Chappell family.”

Dolly Parton Switches Up Hit Song For Super Bowl Ad

Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton has reworked her iconic song “9 to 5” for an upcoming Super Bowl ad.

The advertisement for Squarespace, which helps customers build and manage websites, flips the lyrics to “5 to 9” in tribute to entrepreneurs trying to turn their after-hours passion projects into their own businesses.

“I loved the idea of taking my song ‘9 to 5,’ and mixing it up for a new Squarespace campaign. That’s the beauty of music, it is always changing and growing to meet the world around it,” said Parton in a statement. “There’s a whole new generation of people out there ready to change the world, to meet the growing needs that they see, and I think Squarespace is going to be there with them every step of the way.”

Alongside the ad, Squarespace is also hosting a website for Parton’s upcoming fragrance line. The website will launch before the Super Bowl, with the fragrance itself is due out later this year.

Artist Action: Waylon Payne, Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Kenny Chesney

Waylon Payne Profiled on CBS This Morning Saturday

Singer Waylon Payne was featured on CBS This Morning Saturday over the weekend. He sat down with Anthony Mason to discuss his family (mom, late country singer Sammi Smith, and father, late guitarist Jody Payne), personal struggles, and his critically-acclaimed new album Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me.

During the show, Payne performed “Dangerous Criminal,” “All The Trouble” and “Sins of the Father.”

On Thurs., Feb. 4 Payne will be on a Recording Academy session via Grammy Platforms for an in-depth conversation with producers Frank Liddell and Eric Masse about the making of the album.


Luke Bryan, Eric Church To Perform on Super Bowl After-Party

Luke Bryan, Eric Church

Luke Bryan and Eric Church are among the performers on The Big Concert for Small Business, Verizon’s after-party for Super Bowl VW, airing Sunday, February 7 at 11:00 p.m. ET. As previously reported, Church will also participate in the singing of the national anthem before kickoff.

Hosted by Tiffany Haddish, the event will also feature performances by Alicia Keys, Brandi Carlile, Brittany Howard, Christina Aguilera, H.E.R., Jazmine Sullivan, and Miley Cyrus. The concert will be livestreamed on Yahoo, Fios, @Verizon on Twitter, Twitch, YouTube and TikTok, and broadcasted on BET, CBS Sports Network, CMT, MTV2 and MTV Live, as well as aired on iHeart and Sirius. The event is curated and produced by RocNation.


Kenny Chesney Taps Fans To Choose Next Rum Flavor

Blue Chair Bay Rum. Photo: Allister Ann

Kenny Chesney is turning to his fans in No Shoes Nation to help him select the next flavor of his Blue Chair Bay® Rum, either Mocha Rum Cream or Mango Rum Cream. Participants can vote and enter for a chance to win a guitar signed by Chesney here.

In the eight years since the launch of Blue Chair Bay, the company has expanded to offer flavors including pineapple, key lime, banana, coconut and more. Continuing to innovate, Blue Chair Bay® Rum recently collaborated with New York-based company Tipsy Scoop to create rum-infused ice cream.

Big Sky Music Group Launches

Big Sky Music Group Founder and flagship artist Stephanie Quayle

Singer Stephanie Quayle has founded her own record label, management and entertainment company called Big Sky Music Group, continuing her successful career as an independent artist.

Carli [McLaughlin] Kane will lead operations as Vice President, as the burgeoning label plans for expansion in 2021, including growing the roster alongside flagship artist Quayle. Big Sky will concentrate on artist development, innovative strategy, brand partnerships, mentorship and artist authenticity.

Also joining the team are EJ Bernas, VP, Strategic Partnerships and Development; Christine Hillmann, Dir., A&R and Artist Development; Ella Bibler, Label Coordinator; and Amy Sovine, Special Projects Manager.

The announcement comes on the heels of Quayle’s new single, “By Heart,” available on all digital platforms.

Quayle starts this chapter with Big Sky Music Group with a history of impressive partnerships with top brands including Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s, Harley-Davidson, Wrangler, and KOA, as well as accolades that include being named a CMT Next Women of Country artist, performing multiple times at the Grand Ole Opry, and garnering over 100 million audience impressions at country radio with previous singles.

“The company name, Big Sky Music Group, reflects the limitless spirit and business model of our mission and identity,” shares Kane. “The company’s structure embraces the fluidity of the marketplace and is prepared to prosper in an ever-changing landscape in these new times.”

Quayle, a native of Montana’s Big Sky Country, said, “When I named [my previous company] Rebel Engine [Entertainment] it was in response to seeing so many incredible female artists get signed, shelved and dropped. I picked the company name thinking I needed to resist the conventional industry establishment. In retrospect, it was never about rebelling it was always about pioneering and innovating as part of the music community.”

IBMA Foundation Donates $14,000 In Project Grants

The International Bluegrass Music Association Foundation recently awarded $14,000 in project grants for bluegrass programs in eight states plus wider virtual audiences. Among the grant recipients was the Birthplace of Country Music Museum’s Pick Along! Summer Camps in Bristol, VA/TN for children, where instruction is offered on instruments played on the historic 1927 Bristol sessions, along with classes in dance, singing, and an introduction to a working radio station.

“We’re proud to announce a diverse list of recipients for 2021 which will support bluegrass education and historic preservation programs for both young people and adults,” said board chair Fred Bartenstein. “We are grateful to our donors who continue to support the Foundation during the COVID pandemic. Their generosity has made it possible to award grants to these very deserving programs.” Six of this year’s grants are sponsored by a generous bequest from Dick Barnhart, a lover of bluegrass music.

 Foundation grant recipients for 2021:

  • The Archbold Music Commission; Industrial Strength Bluegrass: An Evening with Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers – Archbold, OH
  • Birthplace of Country Music Museum, Pick Along! Summer Camps – Bristol, VA/TN
  • Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Virtual Bluegrass in the Schools & Assembly – Owensboro, KY
  • Ferrum College, Appalachian Instrument Library – Ferrum, VA
  • Georgia Elementary and Middle School, Bluegrass Intensive Middle School Unit – Georgia, VT
  • Minnesota Bluegrass & Old-Time Music Association, Grass Seeds at Fall Jam and Winter Bluegrass Weekend – Plymouth, MN
  • Queen Bee Music Association, Queen Bee’s Kids Bluegrass Camp – Santa Fe, NM
  • Wintergrass Music Festival, Pocketgrass Youth Academy Club with Mr. Joe and the Youth Orchestra – Bellevue, WA and virtual

Nikita Karmen Releases Walker Hayes-Produced Debut ‘The Garden’

Nikita Karmen has released her debut album The Garden, along with a video for her new single “Own Roses.” The project was produced by fellow artist Walker Hayes.

“Own Roses” laid the foundation for the entire project. Originally from Sydney, Australia, Karmen penned the song while reflecting on her journey of moving across the world five years ago with a dream to make it as an artist in Nashville. She sent the song to Hayes and it organically began their collaboration on The Garden. They recorded the album at Hayes’ house during quarantine.

“I wanted it to be unfiltered and raw and stripped down and that’s the approach Walker took,” said Karmen. “We recorded songs I’d written about real life, my best friend that lived down the road in ‘8 Houses’ and the mistakes I wouldn’t change if I could do some love over in ‘Better.’ So here it is…The Garden. Some roots run deep, some flowers I had to let die to make room for new beautiful ones to bloom. I’m still growing and learning but this is what the last five years of my life have looked like. It was messy and sad and wonderful and unpredictable and looking back at it now, weeds and all I’m so proud of what it turned into. I hope you find some of you in here, maybe the part that is in the midst of a breakup or in the excitement of a new love or the part of you that hasn’t really figured it out yet. I hope you know me better now too, I really wanted you to know me with this project, as scary as that is. I hope you love it like I do.”

“I’m so glad she allowed me to produce and be a part of a project that she was so passionate about. I’m just flat-out glad to be associated with Nikita Karmen,” said Hayes.

The Garden Track List:

  1. Pirates Tonight
  2. Better
  3. 8 Houses
  4. Came Close
  5. Grey Goose
  6. Surprised
  7. Picture Me
  8. Then Some feat. Walker Hayes
  9. Own Roses

Exactuals’ PaymentHub More Than Doubles In Size In 2020

PaymentHub, which manages many forms of complex payments such as residuals, royalties, and insurance claims on behalf of clients in the entertainment and insurance industries, experienced 250 percent year-over-year growth, the company announced Monday (Feb. 1). Additionally, PaymentHub, the flagship product of Exactuals, has eclipsed $1 billion in all-time dollars processed.

According to PaymentHub, it’s growth was driven by the following factors:

• Exactuals’ rapidly expanding client base, which grew more than 100 percent in 2020
• The continued growth in streaming of music and film/television
• The successful acquisition of Backlash Solutions in January 2020
• Strengthened demand for direct deposit in film/TV residuals by SAG-AFTRA members
• The global move to automate manual and paper-based processes to enable work-from-home execution of core processes

“The extraordinary growth of PaymentHub over the past year is exciting, and we expect to see the trend continue in 2021,” said Mike Hurst, Co-Founder and CEO of Exactuals. “The support of City National and Royal Bank of Canada has accelerated growth for our business by removing any market concerns around scale. When we were small and independent, we had to fight to prove we were a safe bet. Today, as a wholly owned subsidiary of one of the world’s largest banks, our clients know they are working with a trusted and stable global institution that puts security and business continuity above all else. I am proud to say, Exactuals represents the safest and fastest path to payment modernization in the industries we serve.”

“City National has always been there for the entertainment industry, and during the pandemic we have doubled down to provide our clients with better, faster, and more efficient service,” said Verna Grayce Chao, executive vice president in charge of City National Bank’s Treasury Management Solutions. “We have a client obsessed culture and we’re dedicated to meeting our clients’ unique needs. PaymentHub allows us to do just that. We’re providing leading technology-based solutions that have replaced outdated processes, paper checks and manual reporting – providing greater security, accuracy, transparency and speed. City National and Exactuals are proud to reach this momentous milestone.”

Sam Grow Inks With APA Nashville

Sam Grow. Photo: Michael Gomez Photography

Sam Grow has signed with APA Nashville. The rising country newcomer will release his new single, “This Town,” produced by Colt Ford and Noah Gordon, on Feb. 12.

Grow, who is signed to Average Joes Entertainment, has amassed over 40 million streams across all streaming platforms. His 2020 hit, “Song About You,” was listed as one of Spotify’s “Best Country Songs of 2020-Wrapped,” and his 2019 album Love and Whiskey debuted at No. 1 on iTunes Country albums chart.

“Sam Grow is a country music tour de force who has worked tirelessly over the past year to bring his signature sound to millions of fans in the DSP arena,” commented APA’s Victoria Gordon. “With plans to release more music this year than ever before, we couldn’t be more proud to support his incredible talent as he continues to build on this amazing momentum.”

“I’m excited to be working with a respected group like APA and a strong, forward-thinking female agent in Vickie Gordon who values and sees the benefit of DSP success and growth in relation to touring,” said Grow. “I’m also excited to release ‘This Town’ from my new album coming later this year.”

Grow has toured relentlessly over the past decade, playing over 150 shows a year. He has headlined theaters and clubs from coast to coast opening for some of music’s biggest acts including Lynyrd Skynyrd, Jason Aldean, Kane Brown, Chris Young, Lady A, Sam Hunt, Dierks Bentley, and more.

Mark Your Calendar—February 2021

Single Add Dates

February 1
Jimmie Allen & Brad Paisley/Freedom Was A Highway/Stoney Creek Records
Eric Lee/Same Dirt Road/Blue Hill Records

February 4
Jeff Bates/How You Make Me Feel

February 5
Brooke Eden/No Shade/BBR
Stephanie Ryann/Ain’t Nothing Better
Jeremy McComb/Withdrawals/Average Joes Entertainment
Aaron Vance/Cabin Fever/Windy Holler Music
Andrew Beam/You Should See The Other Guy

February 8
Granger Smith/Hate You Like I Love You/Wheelhouse Records
Kameron Marlowe/Sober As A Drunk/Columbia
Tom Sexton/What The Whiskey’s For/Lots To Do Music, LLC
Ricky Paul/Just A Country Boy/Ricky Paul

February 11
The Western Country Band/Little Love Song

February 12
Alexandra Kay/We Wouldn’t Be Us
Sam Grow/This Town/Average Joes Entertainment

February 15
for KING & COUNTRY feat. Hannah Ellis, Jackson Michelson/TOGETHER/Curb|Word Entertainment
Garrett Shultz/Last Call/SMG-Nashville

February 16
Filmore/Nothing’s Better/Curb
Robyn Ottolini/F-150/Warner Music Nashville
Aaron Goodvin/Lonely Drum/Reviver Records
Nate Barnes/You Ain’t Pretty/Quartz Hill
The Ashley Sisters/I’ll Get You Back Again/GKM Records

February 18
Kaleb Garrett/Only One
Carolyn Miller/Flatline

February 19
Caroline Jones/Come In/Spectacle Entertainment

February 22
Caitlyn Smith feat. Old Dominion/I Can’t/Monument
Danny Kensy/Lonely Girl/Rad Records
Dave Wilbert/It’s All Yours/Wilbilly Records

February 25
John PayCheck/Lone Stars/HorseBite Entertainment

February 26
Ashlie Amber/Those Nights

Album Releases

February 5
Aaron Lee Tasjan/Tasjan! Tasjan! Tasjan!/New West Records

February 12
Florida Georgia Line/Life Rolls On/BMLG Records
Kip Moore/Wild World Deluxe/UMG
Loretta Lynn/Coal Miner’s Daughter (Re-issue celebrating 50th anniversary)/MCA Nashville/UMe
Pentatonix/The Lucky Ones/RCA Records
Johnny Lee/Everything’s Gonna’ Be Alright/BFD/Audium Nashville

February 19
Lainey Wilson/Sayin’ What I’m Thinkin’/BBR Music Group/Broken Bow Records
John Driskell Hopkins/Lonesome High

February 26
Willie Nelson/That’s Life/Legacy Recordings
Hailey Whitters/Living The Dream/Pigasus Records/Big Loud Records/Songs & Daughters
Ian Munsick/Coyote Cry/Warner Music Nashville
Pat Barrett/Act Justly, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly/Bowyer & Bow/Capitol Christian Music Group

Industry Events

February 16 – 19
Country Radio Seminar (Virtual)

February 17
MusicRow‘s CountryBreakout Awards (Virtual)