Stepping into the circle for the very first time as a performer is always a huge career milestone for any country artist, and he brought out his friend and frequent collaborator, Morgan Wallen, to join him.
A surprise for everyone at the show, Morgan took the stage to duet their fan-favorite “Flower Shops” during Ernest’s set.
The performance however, didn’t come without controversy.
In light of Morgan Wallen’s well-publicized racial slur incident from February of 2021, a number of people took to Twitter to voice their disappointment with the Grand Ole Opry for allowing Morgan to perform, including a number of country artists.
Jason Isbell weighed in, saying the Opry “broke the hearts of a legion of aspiring Black country artists” by permitting Morgan on stage.
Of course, Jason wrote “Cover Me Up,” a song that Morgan recorded for his 2021 album Dangerous, the highest-selling album of the year.
Last night @opry you had a choice- either upset one guy and his “team,” or break the hearts of a legion of aspiring Black country artists. You chose wrong and I’m real sad for a lot of my friends today. Not surprised though. Just sad.
The thing that really upsets me is bigger than one person’s words. It’s the idea of a young Black artist walking into that venue and wondering if ANYBODY is on their side. What a lot of us consider to be a grand ole honor can be terrifying for some. Doesn’t have to be that way. https://t.co/pxtSQjimoG