CMA Awards Ban Morgan Wallen From Attending, Despite Album of the Year Nomination

Morgan Wallen
John Shearer/Getty Images for Ryman Auditorium

Morgan Wallen performs onstage at the Ryman Auditorium on Jan. 12, 2021 in Nashville.

Should Morgan Wallen’s Dangerous: The Double Album win album of the year at Nov. 10’s 55th annual CMA Awards in Nashville, the artist will not be allowed to accept the trophy.

Following the release of a Feb. 2 video that showed Wallen using a racial slur, he was dropped from most radio stations and his label, Big Loud/Republic, temporarily suspended him. Awards shows, including the Academy of Country Music, also banned him.

In late May, the CMA Awards announced that they would allow Wallen, the reigning new artist of the year, to be eligible in categories that honor artistic works (single, song, album, musical event, and music video of the year), “so as not to limit opportunity for other credited collaborators,” in the words of the CMA. But he would not be eligible in individual artist categories (entertainer and male vocalist of the year). He and his collaborators subsequently received an album of the year nod earlier this month.

The Los Angeles Times broke the news Thursday (Sept. 30) that, despite his nomination, the CMA Awards will not allow Wallen to attend, perform or accept an award at the show, including not walking the red carpet. Billboard has confirmed the ban with the Country Music Association.

“This is the first time in the history of the CMA, to my knowledge, anyone has ever been disqualified for conduct,” CMA CEO Sarah Trahern told the LA Times. “Honoring him as an individual this year is not right, and he will not be allowed on the red carpet, on our stage, or be celebrated in any way.”

That leaves the question of who should accept if Wallen wins or if his team would stand in solidarity with their absent leader. His co-nominees for the project, which is this year’s biggest seller across all genres, are producers Dave Cohen, Matt Dragstrem, Jacob Durrett, Charlie Handsome and Joey Moi. Moi is also nominated as the mix engineer on the project.

A representative for Wallen and Big Loud declined to comment.