So the CMA Awards decided to nominate Morgan Wallen after all

In February Morgan Wallen made himself persona non grata in the music business after video footage surfaced of him using an anti-Black racial slur. But he was welcomed by the Country Music Association when their nominations were announced on September 9 … sort of. He has just one nomination, but it’s a big one: Album of the Year for “Dangerous.”

The scandal caused Wallen to be dropped from country radio stations and banned from the 2021 Academy of Country Music Awards entirely. Even when he was nominated and won at this past spring’s Billboard Music Awards (which are based solely on commercial performance on the charts), he was actively excluded from the awards show, with Dick Clark Productions saying, “His recent conduct does not align with our core values.”

But the CMA Awards opted for a partial ban. The only categories they disqualified him from where Entertainer of the Year and Male Vocalist of the Year, where he alone would have been recognized for his achievements. They allowed him to compete in all other categories “so as not to limit opportunity for other credited collaborators,” including producers, engineers, songwriters, directors, and fellow artists who also worked on his music and music videos.

Ultimately, Wallen only ended up with the Album of the Year nomination, which suggests voters might still have been skittish about honoring him, though it also points to the fact that consequences for successful entertainers are often short-lived. After a year when he used the N-word, was arrested for public intoxication and disorderly conduct, and was kicked off “Saturday Night Live” for breaking COVID-19 safety protocols, all that happened was that he missed out on half an awards cycle and some radio exposure while his album spent 10 weeks at number-one and is now considered by his industry peers one of the best of the year (“SNL” invited him back too).

Say what you will about the value of forgiveness, but I suspect many entertainers would kill to have as many first chances as Wallen has had second, third, and fourth chances.

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