He said he was bringing up the old paintings now because he wanted to be a highly visible country artist and show that people can change and learn from their mistakes. He also wanted to encourage more people in the country music industry to have these tough conversations.

The genre had a racial reckoning even before Wallen’s actions, but top artists have often been reluctant to talk about race, both in the present and in the past of the genre.

“I’m trying to learn. I’m trying to get better,” said Combs.

Morris also spoke about the Confederate flag, saying that as a native Texan, she didn’t fully understand the history and context of the flag outside of “southern pride” until she was a teenager.

She said that if she saw a flag being hoisted at country music festivals, she would not want to play those festivals and asked the country artists to request the removal of those flags.

She is also one of the few country artists to have publicly criticized Wallen’s actions on social media, saying that she has had some setbacks, but those were minimal compared to what blacks regularly experience.

“I appreciate Morgan telling his fans to stop defending me because there is no justification for it. He knows that. We know that,” said Morris. “All we can do to avoid an elephant in the room is say it out loud and hold our colleagues accountable. I don’t care if it’s uncomfortable to be in line of you at the next awards ceremony . “