At any point in the history of country music, it's rare that one artist has established themselves as the clear and outright front runner in the charts, on Country Radio, on tour, and in all the possible metrics. When they do, their dominance usually only lasts for a season or two, before their successor gladly steps into the spotlight.
Morgan Wallen, however, has been keeping the Music City throne warm for over two years now. The Sneedville native released his sprawling, game-changing double-album, Dangerous, in 2021, and it went on to set a new record for the most weeks spent at No. 1 on the Billboard Country Albums chart. Since then, the 30-song project became the first album in chart history to spent 100 weeks in the Top Ten of the Billboard 200.
Incredibly, Wallen's 2023 follow-up album, One Thing At A Time, is on track to exceed the unprecedented success and groundbreaking territory that Dangerous ventured into. The record has delivered the biggest US streaming week of all time for a country album, and has spent even longer at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 than Dangerous.
Morgan Wallen's sound has always been somewhat of a paradox. The themes he explores revolve around country staples such as whiskey, heartbreak and faith. However, what makes Wallen's music so potent is the fact that he expands the traditional sonic architecture that tends to be constructed around these topics in country music, and deftly weaves in hip hop, trap, rock and indie influences.
Despite the lengthening list of accolades and triumphs to Morgan Wallen's name, the person behind the music continues to be the subject of unparalleled fascination and scrutiny.
Some revere him, some revile him, due to a string of controversies around the time of Dangerous’ release, which included an arrest for public intoxication and disorderly conduct, as well as a leaked video of a drunken Wallen making a racist slur with a group of friends.
Shortly after apologising, Morgan Wallen donated $500,000 to Black Music Action Coalition and other related organisations, and pledged to sober up, something he references on his 2023 album opener, ‘Born With A Beer In My Hand’.
Nonetheless, ever since, media coverage and online characterisations of the ‘Last Night’ hitmaker have tended to depict Morgan Wallen as country music's anti-hero. This has led to instances of, in the words of Wallen's manager, Austin Neal, publications “automatically recasting him as a bad guy while perpetuating false rumours with no factual basis”.
This was particularly evident when Wallen was forced to cancel a 2023 show in Oxford, Mississippi after injuring his vocal chords, before a torrent of reports followed accusing him of simply being too drunk to perform - something that has since been shown to be wholly untrue.
Bearing this in mind, when it comes to Morgan Wallen, sorting fact from fiction can often be a challenging endeavour.
To help bring a little clarity, background and context to country's chart-topping megastar, we've compiled answers to some of the most widely asked questions about Morgan Wallen.
Morgan Cole Wallen was born on May 13th 1993, with the country maverick having turned 30 earlier this year. On the day, Wallen shared a photo of him holding his son, Indigo Wilder, accompanied with the caption, “Celebrating 30 w my dawg”.
Morgan Wallen was born in Sneedville, Tennessee, and grew up in the small-town surroundings that he so often cites in his music.
As a child, he would often sing in the church where his father served as a preacher, and Wallen has spoke in the past about his parents’ influence on his music taste. His mother loved Christian songs, while his dad favoured hard rock.
Wallen has referenced the refreshing duality between his father's role as a preacher and his penchant for a style of music that was atypical for someone in such a position. This has coloured songs such as ‘Don't Think Jesus’ and ‘I Wrote The Book’, which package up traditional Christian themes into a contemporary, genre-blending sound.
Morgan Wallen's biggest hits to date include ‘Last Night’, which, at the time of writing, has spent ten weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, making it the longest-running No. 1 country song in Hot 100 history.
Songs that have hit the top spot at Country Radio include the Florida Georgia Line-assisted ‘Up Down’, ‘Whiskey Glasses’ and ‘Chasin’ You’, all of which appeared on Wallen's debut album, If I Know Me. Morgan Wallen's other chart-toppers are ‘More Than My Hometown’, ‘7 Summers’, ‘Sand in My Boots’, ‘You Proof’ and ‘Thought You Should Know’.
During his 2023 One Night At A Time tour, Morgan Wallen has been singing an an array of fan-favourites from across his expansive discography, including ‘Still Goin’ Down’, ‘Thinkin’ Bout Me’ and ‘One Thing At A Time’, the title-track of his 2023 album.
Yes, Morgan Wallen competed on Season 6 of The Voice USA in 2014. The young singer-songwriter auditioned with a rendition of Howie Day's 2003 track, ‘Collide’, prompting judges Shakira and Usher to turn their chairs, with Wallen ultimately choosing to join the latter's team.
During a subsequent round in the series, Wallen was ‘stolen’ by Adam Levine, before being eliminated in the play-offs, after singing ‘Stay’ by Florida Georgia Line. In an interview years later, Morgan Wallen commented on the irony of this, “I made the Top 20. When I made it there, I got a list of songs to choose from. A Florida Georgia Line song was the only country song on the list, so I sang their song and got kicked off. It shows you how things come full circle. Now I have a song with them”.
Morgan Wallen is not married, and - given his track record with the media - he unsurprisingly keeps his personal life relatively private.
In the past, he has been known to have dated model, Paige Lorenze, in 2022, as well as KT Smith, with Wallen and Smith believed to have been engaged at one point.
Morgan Wallen shares a son with KT Smith, Indigo Wilder, who was born on July 10th 2020. Although the couple are not together romantically, they continue to co-parent Indigo.
Following Indigo's birth, Wallen penned a heartfelt message to his Instagram page, “Little Wilder, I’m a changed man. Since you came into the world Friday, I see mine differently now. It’s not just me anymore, and I’m glad it’s not. This year has been the hardest of my life in so many ways, but that’s not what I will remember it by. You are. You are a gift and this tough year just made sense. I’ll be the Dad you deserve as well as the co-parent your mother deserves. Since you were born, I know that every decision I make will be with you in mind. I promise I’ll always protect you, and do my best to be an example of a good, godly man just like my daddy was for me”.
He went on to say, “I knew this day was coming when I got to share this news with y’all. And I’m glad that day is here. I didn’t know what being a dad would feel like, honestly have been a little scared. But it’s the coolest damn feeling, and I’m ready for whatever God has planned for me and my little guy. He’s healthy and happy and while I’m typing this I’m getting in the truck to go hold him right now. Thank you for all the love and prayers. Thank you to my friends and family who have called and texted me letting me know how happy they are for me and that I have their support. I can’t wait to see him hook into his first big one”.
Not only has Morgan Wallen co-written many of his hits, he's also penned songs for the likes of Bailey Zimmerman, Corey Kent, Keith Urban and Florida Georgia Line.
Of his own tracks, Wallen has received writing credits on ‘You Proof’, ‘7 Summers’, ‘I Wrote The Book’, ‘Chasin’ You’, ‘One Thing At A Time’, ‘Somebody's Problem’, ‘Thought You Should Know’ and more. He wrote the latter with Miranda Lambert and Nicolle Galyon, with Lambert even performing the sweet, Mother's Day ballad during her 2023 headlining set at Gulf Coast Jam in Florida.
Morgan Wallen regularly crafts songs alongside many of Nashville's finest lyricists and melody-makers, including Ashley Gorley and Ryan Vojtesak. However, Wallen has become known for the sparks that fly whenever he enters the writing room with his two best buds, HARDY and Ernest, with the prolific trio having created ‘More Than My Hometown’ and ‘This Bar’. HARDY previously revealed to Holler that the three hitmakers would soon put out a song that features them all as vocalists.
Morgan Wallen has a colossal line-up of 2023 world tour dates as part of his One Night At A Time run of shows, and he's recruited a blockbuster roster of big-name country support acts to help keep the momentum going throughout the year.
Ernest and Bailey Zimmerman are the openers for all of Morgan Wallen's 2023 dates, with HARDY, Riley Green and Parker McCollum also joining Wallen for a variety of his tour-stops.
The opening performers for Morgan Wallen's hotly anticipated December 2023 UK show at London's O2 Arena is yet to be confirmed, but Ernest and Zimmerman are both likely to feature.
Ticket prices for his 2023 One Night At A Time tour vary from venue to venue, but a spot inside a Morgan Wallen show is highly coveted, and can therefore be fairly costly.
Taking his Houston, Texas show on November 18th as an example, Platinum seating will set you back the best part of $1,000, with the cheapest options being just shy of $500. To secure yourself a ticket to Morgan Wallen's August 30th show in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, you would have to pay anywhere between $225 and $800.
The high prices are a reflection of the fact that the vast majority of Wallen's 2023 tour tickets have already been sold, leaving only the VIP and Platinum seating available for many dates. At the time of writing, Morgan Wallen's UK show at London's O2 Arena is sold out.
Megan Moroney's ‘Tennessee Orange’ tells the charming, football-inspired story of a Georgia girl who falls in love with a Tennessee Volunteers fan, much to the chagrin of her Bulldogs-supporting family.
It all started with an Instagram post that Megan Moroney uploaded of her wearing a Tennessee Volunteers jersey, with the up-and-coming artist later sharing that the shirt did belong to Morgan Wallen.
Megan Moroney has never officially confirmed that ‘Tennessee Orange’ was written with Morgan Wallen in mind, although many listeners still suspect this to be the case.
For more on Morgan Wallen, see below:
Featured photo by Ryan Smith