Morgan Wallen was the man of the hour at the 2023 CMA Awards, especially after he surprised fans and brought Eric Church out on stage with him.
The twosome teamed up on Wednesday, November 8, for the world television premiere of their 2023 hit “Man Made a Bar.” During the performance, both Wallen, 30, and Church, 46, played the guitar.
The mellow, but powerful rendition of the track pulled viewers in and kept them on the edge of their feet until the end.
Wallen is one of the biggest names at the Nashville awards show this year partially because he is set to take the stage twice. The CMA Awards previously announced that the “Wasted on You” singer would perform with HARDY and Post Malone for a country classics medley.
He also teased singing alongside a “special guest” ahead of his mystery collaborator hitting the stage on Wednesday. Wallen is nominated for two awards at the event, including Album of the Year for One Thing at a Time and Male Vocalist of the Year.
The “Whiskey Glasses” singer’s CMA Awards comeback follows a rocky for years for Wallen. In February 2021, Wallen sparked controversy when a past video of him using the N-word resurfaced.
“I’m embarrassed and sorry. I used an unacceptable and inappropriate racial slur that I wish I could take back,” he said in a statement at the time. “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.”
Despite his apology, Wallen was temporarily blacklisted from the industry in the wake of the scandal. He was banned from the 2021 ACM Awards, the 2021 CMA Awards and the 2021 Billboard Music Awards in addition to being pulled from country radio.
The following year, Wallen began quietly rebuilding his career and started winning awards once again. At the 2022 CMA Awards, he was nominated for Entertainer of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year and Song of the Year for “Sand in My Boots.”
Wallen hit another bump in the road in May when he had to cancel six weeks of shows as he battled health issues. “I went in [to the doctors] and got scoped yesterday, and they told me that I reinjured my vocal cords and that I have vocal fold trauma. Their advice is that I go on vocal rest for six weeks, so that’s what I’m gonna do,” he explained via an Instagram video at the time. “I also tore my lat [muscle] while we were in Australia. I’ve been trying to work through that quietly, but this time off is gonna help me get that back right as well.”
The musician was cleared to perform again in early June and headed back on tour shortly thereafter. In September, Wallen announced the continuation of his One Night at a Time Tour, sharing new dates had been added for 2024.
“Been one of the best years for me and my music so we’re gonna run it back … same tour name, staying on this album and many more cities to visit,” he wrote via Instagram. “I’ve got plans in mind to still single Cowgirls, Man Made A Bar and who knows maybe 98 Braves. Let’s keep this thing going.”
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