Morgan Wallen made a surprise appearance at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on Saturday night, joining Lil Durk for a performance of their collab “Broadway Girls.” Lil Durk was performing as part of MLK Freedom Fest, a multi-artist rap concert ahead of Monday’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday.
Following a brief introduction by Durk — in which he referred to his guest being “genuine at heart” and added “Can’t nobody cancel shit without me saying it, you know what I’m saying?” — Wallen, dressed in a denim vest and jeans, emerged onstage. “What’s up, Nashville?” Wallen said as the track kicked in.
Along with Lil Durk, the MLK Freedom Fest lineup included Moneybagg Yo, Rod Wave, and Latto.
Wallen’s appearance at an event named in honor of a civil rights leader comes nearly a year after he was filmed using a racial slur, an incident that resulted in an industry-wide backlash. At least temporarily, Wallen’s songs were pulled from radio and streaming playlists, he lost agent representation, was suspended by his record label, and was ruled ineligible at last year’s ACM and CMA Awards.
But the country singer’s career has quickly rebounded. His 2021 album Dangerous: The Double Album was the year’s top album on Billboard’s 200 Albums Chart, spending 10 weeks at No. 1 — the first LP to spend its first 10 weeks in the top spot since Whitney Houston notched 11 weeks in 1987.
Released in mid-December, “Broadway Girls” hit Number One on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. According to Billboard, the milestone makes Wallen only the fourth artist — after Ray Charles, Billy Ray Cyrus, and Justin Bieber — to reach No. 1 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and the Hot Country Songs chart.
Last weekend, Wallen made another surprise appearance in Nashville, turning up at the Grand Ole Opry to duet with his labelmate Ernest on the duet “Flower Shops.” Wallen’s cameo on the Opry stage was met with criticism by fellow artists like Jason Isbell, Rissi Palmer, and Joy Oladokun.