Vince Gill: ‘It’d Be Nice’ If More Country Artists Spoke Up on Social Issues
Vince Gill says racist words like the one Morgan Wallen was recently caught using on video don't have a place in America, but stopped short of tying the young singer's behavior to country music at large. Maren Morris didn't.
Talking to CBS This Morning's Anthony Mason, Morris says the only way to move forward is by deconstructing the popular view of the values and listener base the genre was built on and for and acknowledging that racism and cultural appropriation are at the root of it all.
“Morgan is a symptom of a much bigger disease of what our genre is right now," she says.
Morris and Gill are two of four country artists who talked to Mason, the others being Ryan Hurd, who is married to Morris, and Rissi Palmer. While Gill has previously spoken to strengthen social conversations as they relate to country music -- he and Morris collaborated on a song called "Dear Hate" that she released after the 2017 shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas, Nev., for example -- he admitted to being nervous for this particular interview.
Nonetheless, Gill says, more artists should speak up. When pressed on his reaction to Wallen's words, he addressed an argument many have made since.
“It was just sad. It was just disappointing. I knew that everybody was going to massacre country music," Gill says. "And white America, when they make the argument, ‘Well, I hear [the n-word] in rap music all the time …,’ I go, 'Have you not been paying attention to the last 300-400 years, how that word has been used by the white community?’”
Palmer was an independent artist who made history with her charting song "Country Girl" in 2007 and now hosts Apple Music's Color Me Country radio show. During this interview, she spoke about her career and some of what she faced as a Black artist in country music: for example, how security tried to keep her from taking the stage, unwilling to believe that a Black woman could be the featured performer at a country show.
Still, Palmer sees country music's recent reckonings with race as a positive step. She's waiting, however, to see if hiring practices, artist signings and airplay charts change before she decides if it's all real.
With the last word, Gill performed a snippet of new song he wrote, called "March On," that takes on this topic. “Four-hundred years of history / Couldn’t be more wrong / A reckoning is coming / March on, march on," he sings.