In early February, a video surfaced showing country artist Morgan Wallen using a racist slur. Now, following several forms of backlash, and after Wallen’s album went No. 1 for a fourth week, Jason Isbell has announced that he will donate all songwriting royalties from his track “Cover Me Up”—which appears on Wallen’s new album Dangerous: The Double Album—to the Nashville branch of the NAACP. “So… A portion of this money goes to me, since I wrote ‘Cover Me Up.’” Isbell wrote on Twitter. “I’ve decided to donate everything I’ve made so far from this album to the Nashville chapter of the @NAACP. Thanks for helping out a good cause, folks.”
TMZ initially posted a video of Wallen using an anti-Black slur on February 2. The website also shared a statement from Wallen, who said, “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.”
Wallen was subsequently suspended indefinitely by his label Big Loud Records after the video emerged. CMT also pledged to remove Wallen’s appearances from its platforms. Additionally, Cumulus Media sent a message to over 400 radio stations, directing them to remove Wallen’s music from their playlists. The Academy of Country Music released a statement confirming that Wallen will be ineligible for this year’s CMAs.
On Wednesday night, Wallen released a video addressing the incident. He talked about attempting to get sober and meeting with Black organizations and executives to discuss the weight of his words. He also encouraged his fans to stop trying to defend his actions. “I have one favor to ask,” he said. “I appreciate those who still see something in me and have defended me, but for today, please don’t. I was wrong. It’s on me take ownership for this and I fully accept any penalties I’m facing.”
The original version of “Cover Me Up” appeared on Isbell’s 2013 studio album Southeastern. Shortly after Isbell’s announcement, Diplo posted on Twitter that he would donate the proceeds from “Heartless”—his 2019 song with Wallen—to the NAACP. “Heartless is a old song of mine thats been in my live set for years,” Diplo tweeted. “Im sorry, I didn’t mean to make anyone mad or offended by playing a song featuring Morgan. It was by no means a Political statement or a message. Jason’s doin the right thing, Im also donating my proceeds.”