Posted on February 19, 2021

Luke Combs Apologizes for His Past Use of Confederate Flag

Dave Paulson, Tennessean, February 17, 2021

Country star Luke Combs said “there is no excuse” for his past use of Confederate flag imagery in photos and a 2015 music video.

“As I’ve grown in my time as an artist, and as the world has changed drastically in the last five to seven years, I am now aware how painful that image can be,” Combs said.

“…I would never want to be associated with something that brings so much hurt to someone else.”

The comments came Wednesday during a conversation on “accountability and the future of country music” with Maren Morris and moderator Ann Powers for the annual Country Radio Seminar.

In 2015 — two years before the release of his debut album — Combs was seen performing in front of numerous Confederate flags in the music video for Ryan Upchurch’s “Can I Get a Outlaw.” His acoustic guitar at the time also included a sticker with the flag’s image. Photos of Combs with that guitar have circulated on social media in recent months.

Plans for the conversation took shape earlier this month after country star Morgan Wallen was filmed using a racial slur. The incident prompted an industry-wide response (including the removal of Wallen’s music from hundreds of radio stations) and renewed conversations on racism, inclusion and a continued lack of diversity in country music.

After the video of Wallen was released on Feb. 2, Morris was one of the first (and ultimately few) mainstream country stars to directly condemn his actions. She also dedicated her 2020 CMA Award for Female Vocalist of Year to numerous Black women in country music.

As Morris discussed during the conversation, she also has been called out for past behavior. She recalled a tweet by writer Andrea Williams that pointed out a lack of Black musicians on her most recent album, which proudly wore an R&B influence. {snip}


The conversation also touched on country music’s history of exclusion and the continued dominance of white men on the genre’s airplay charts.

“Imagine over the last 50 years, the songs that we haven’t gotten to hear, because we shut the door in a Black person’s face,” Morris said “(It) could have been the song of the year. We’ll never know. We’ve got to change that going forward.”

Combs said he “would be so welcoming and open” to having more diversity in his band, as well as on the country charts.