Morgan Wallen Fulfills Donation Pledge to African American Museum

Despite the false reporting from Rolling Stone and other outlets about the nature of Morgan Wallen’s donations to Black music charities after his N-word incident in January of 2021, Saving Country Music and USA Today can confirm that Wallen has indeed fulfilled his full $500,000 pledge, with the final $100,000 being donated to the National Museum of African American Music in Nashville last week.

According to Tuwisha Rogers-Simpson, vice president of brand and partnerships for the National Museum of African American Music, not only did Morgan Wallen make the $100,000 donation, the singer also toured the location that opened in 2019, and the museum was given the opportunity to, “share our mission with Morgan as he was eager to learn more in a sincere effort to grow.”

The National Museum of African American Music is the only museum dedicated to preserving and celebrating all the music genres that African Americans helped create, influence, and inspire, including country music. The museum’s collections tell the story of the American soundtrack by integrating history and interactive technology to bring the musical heroes of the past into the present. It is located on Lower Broadway in Nashville, right across the street from the Ryman Auditorium.

Morgan Wallen had also previously made a $100,000 donation to Rock Against Racism, a $165,000 donation to the Black Music Action Coalition, and a $135,000 donation through the Entertainment Industry Foundation to be distributed by individuals as they chose.

On September 20th, 2021 Rolling Stone posted an article titled, “‘Exceptionally Misleading’: Morgan Wallen Pledged $500K to Black-Led Groups, But the Money Seems Largely M.I.A.,” claiming that Morgan Wallen had only delivered $165,000 of the $500,000 he had pledged to black charities in the aftermath of the N-word incident. The original pledge came in an interview Wallen gave to Michael Strahan on July 23rd on Good Morning America—less than two months before Rolling Stone made its false claim.

Rolling Stone was forced to issue a correction after publishing the article when the CEO of Morgan Wallen’s label Big Loud, Seth England, reached out to the outlet confirming that donations had been made to Rock Against Racism and the Entertainment Industry Foundation. Rolling Stone had only accounted for the donation to the Black Music Action Coalition.

Rolling Stone‘s dubious methodology to verify whether the donations had been made was to cold call 56 separate Black charities with Tennessee ties from a database of over 700 Black charities in the United States total, or roughly 8% of them. To Rolling Stone‘s credit, they did reach out to Morgan Wallen’s management previously about the donations, but had not received a response until the article was posted.

Despite the Rolling Stone update, the claim that Morgan Wallen did not fulfill his pledged donations was rebroadcast by Complex, Vulture, Insider, Independent, Mediaite, Uproxx, Daily Mail, Paper Mag,, Page Six, Pop Culture, Pop Crush,, Yahoo, Just Jared, NME, and many others, with few if any of these outlets updating their story after the information was refuted, and Wallen’s donations had been confirmed by both Saving Country Music, and USA Today.

Subsequently, Rolling Stone‘s initial false reporting has resulted in an established canard throughout entertainment media that has influenced subsequent events and reporting. The false notion that Morgan Wallen had not made the donations fed into the outrage when Wallen made a guest appearance on the Grand Ole Opry on January 8th 2022. The Rolling Stone article on Morgan Wallen’s purported delinquent donations was shared over 30 times on Twitter alone as evidence that no corrective effort had been expended by the singer.

Shortly after the Morgan Wallen donations report, the new editor of Rolling Stone, Noah Shachtman, was quoted in numerous publications saying the approach of the outlet would be “more immediate, more visceral,” and “faster, louder, harder.” This approach has resulted in numerous refuted stories from the outlet over the last nine months, including the Morgan Wallen story.

The false reporting was also referenced in an extensive feature on Jason Isbell in Buzzfeed, which made the claim Morgan Wallen had done “nothing” to learn from the experience after the N-word incident, and linked to an article in Complex that rebroadcast the false information in the Rolling Stone story about the donations without including the update.

Even in the Rolling Stone update, and when Saving Country Music reached out to the Buzzfeed writer, Elamin Abdelmahmoud, the claim continues to be made that the information in the articles is not technically incorrect since it was Morgan Wallen’s label Big Loud that made the donations, not Morgan Wallen himself.

But this is clearly a red herring. Wallen’s pledge to donate the $500,000 stemmed from the estimated profit he made from his music after the incident, and his attempted cancellation. Instead of Big Loud paying Wallen to then turn around and donate the proceeds from the music, Big Loud made the donations directly. Either way, it was the money earned by Morgan Wallen that would have gone to him if not for the donations.

Buzzfeed writer Elamin Abdelmahmoud also says his claim that Morgan Wallen did “nothing” corrective after the incident is still valid, irrespective of the donations, because it was more about what he learned or did not learn. However, Morgan Wallen offered up numerous apologies after the incident and expressed specifically what he had learned, and met with multiple leaders in the Black music community in an effort to learn from his mistake, including BeBe Winans, Kevin Liles, Eric Hutcherson, and others.

“I accepted some invitations from some amazing Black organizations, executives, and leaders to engage in some very real and honest conversations,” Morgan Wallen said in the aftermath of the incident. “They had every right to step on my neck when I was down, but they did the exact opposite. They offered me grace, and they also paired that with an offer to learn and to grow.”

“My words matter,”
Morgan Wallen continued. “A word can truly hurt a person, and at my core that’s not what I’m okay with. This week I heard first hand some personal stories from Black people that honestly shook me. And I know what I’m going through doesn’t even compare to some of the trials I heard about from them. I came away from those discussions for a deep appreciation for them, and a clearer understanding for the weight of my words.”

The words of Rolling Stone, Buzzfeed, and others matter too, and also hold weight. That is why it is imperative for the media to strive to tell the truth and confirm information before publishing. And when an error is made, outlets should offer their own corrective action and apologies as opposed to presenting red herring deniability, lest the lesson learned by Morgan Wallen and others is that donating large sums of money and taking substantive corrective action is not worth the trouble, because the media will mischaracterize or lie about it anyway.

© 2023 Saving Country Music