According to Insider, during a recent Television Critics Association panel, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie, both judges on American Idol, were asked specifically about diversity in country music and what American Idol is doing about it.
In light of the Morgan Wallen incident from early 2021, and then the controversy surrounding his recent Opry appearance as a surprise guest with Ernest, Luke and Lionel were asked directly about the perception of racism in country music, particularly as it pertains to people who are Black and Asian.
The question asked was as follows:
“How does that specifically solve the problems that are going on in country music right now and dealing with the perception that there’s racism in country music, and that it’s not open to people who are Black and Asian?”
“First of all, there’s racism throughout the whole country. Just to just sit here and single out country music as some kind of racist format is not altogether natural and true.
I’ve been privy to various board meetings where we recognize our problems as an industry, and things take time. I think this country learns every day about the severity of racism.
And like I said, I think sometimes you have to open your eyes and understand other people’s side of the story.”
He then added that loves seeing people from all walks of life in the crowd when he’s on stage, and that it fires him up when fans aren’t your stereotypical (white, southern) country music fan:
“It was always one of the coolest images in my world because that means I crossed over and touched somebody else that maybe stereotypically somebody else wouldn’t agree with.
And I think, as country music learns, yes, there’s a bigger audience out there for us as artists.
You bring up the Morgan situation… that’s a situation that I think country music and the industry is doing everything they can to recognize, and these things take time.
They take time in the National Football League. They take time as a country.”
Luke invited Morgan Wallento appear as a surprise guest during his Nashville show at Bridgestone Arena this past summer. Morgan joined Luke, as well as Jason Aldean, and Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard on stage.
He introduced his #1 song “More Than My Hometown” with some honesty as he began to play it acoustically for the sold-out crowd:
“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.”