Appearing alongside Bryan, Jason Aldean and Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard during an acoustic segment of the show, the embattled 28-year-old country music star — who was caught on video earlier this year using the N-word — performed his songs “More Than My Hometown” and “Whiskey Glasses” to the roaring sold-out crowd.
“So a really good friend of mine is here backstage,” Aldean told the audience leading up to Wallen’s cameo. Bryan chimed in, asking, “Do I need another tequila shot to get through this?”
Dressed in a black T-shirt, blue jeans and a backwards baseball cap, Wallen strutted down the catwalk with his acoustic guitar and handed celebratory shots to his fellow musicians before serenading concert-goers.
“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 before performing “More Than My Hometown.”
Last week, in his first major interview since being on video caught using the racial slur, Wallen spoke to Good Morning America‘s Michael Strahan, offering an explanation for the incident, which resulted in his music being pulled from radio and streaming, as well as earning him a suspension by his record label and declared ineligible for this year’s ACM Awards.
“I was around some of my friends, and we we say dumb stuff together,” Wallen told GMA. “And it was — in our minds, it’s playful … that sounds ignorant, but it — that’s really where it came from … and it’s wrong.”
Shortly after the offending clip’s release earlier this year, Wallen posted a five-minute apology video in which he said he’d “let so many people down.” He vowed to take some time to work on himself after hearing some firsthand “personal stories from Black people that honestly shook me.”
Despite his rocky year, Wallen has continued to thrive on the Billboard charts. His Dangerous: The Double Album spent 10 weeks on top of the Billboard 200, making it the first album to spend its first 10 weeks at No. 1 since 1987.