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tv   Nightline  ABC  February 5, 2021 12:37am-1:06am PST

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this is "nightline." >> tonight, divided country. the fall of chart-topping musician morgan wallen. ♪ i'ma need some whiskey glasses ♪ >> caught on camera shouting a racial slur. now the fierce fallout. can country music remake its good ol' boy image? divided by the virus. putting love and immigration laws to the test, now a baby caught in the middle. >> the baby could really come any day. life in a day around the world. >> what would happen if we asked people all around the world to use their camera phones to just record their lives?
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♪ good evening. thanks so much for joining us. i'm linsey davis. tonight, the career of a country music star quickly going south. morgan wallen facing fallout after using a racial slur. the moment forcing an industry
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to confront a truth. here's "nightline's" ashan singh. ♪ talking about getting further south ♪ >> reporter: morgan wallen embodied country music. his songs like "seven summers" a celebration of small-town living, good friends, and good times. the tennessee native rose to the top of the charts in 2018 with hits like "whiskey glasses." and never left. at 27 years old, wallen is one of the biggest stars in all of music. now a racial slur has stopped his meteoric rise in its tracks. a video obtained by tmz shows wallen and a group of friends coming home early sunday morning after a night out on the town in nashville. a neighbor was recording when wallen said this. >> hey, take care of this [ bleep ]. hey, take care of this [ bleep ]. >> reporter: his use of that racial epithet led to swift
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fallout. his two record labels announcing, in the wake of recent events, big loud records has made the decision to suspend morgan wall.'srecording contract indefinitely. republic records, the second labe fully supports big loud's decision and agrees such behavior will not be tolerated. talk radio chains have stopped playing his music, including cumulus media, i heart radio, sirius xm, and others. tonight, "variety" reporting his agent dropping him. the academy of country music announcing he is no longer eligible for any awards at their annual ceremony in april. >> it's the only time i can think of in any genre where somebody just went from being the biggest star to having zero air play, almost, in the course of one day. >> reporter: now the country music industry finally forced to confront the issue of racism head on. what type of message is the industry sending by taking these stances? >> the message that is being sent right now is that the "n" word is a no-go.
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i think that has been made clear. can we get to the point now where we are also uncovering or working to undo the culture that supports an artist like that -- how did we even get an artist in the space who is essentially on top of the world and still talks like this? how do we get that? why does he feel comfortable here doing that? >> reporter: wallen apologized in the statement to tmz saying, i'm embarrassed and sorry. i used an unacceptable and inappropriate racial slur that i wish i could take back. there are no excuses to use this type of language ever. i want to sincerely apologize for using the word. i promise to do better. but for some, the apology was too little, too late. ♪ if you think ♪ >> reporter: nicky guyton is the first country singer to be nominated for a grammy for her song "black like me." she tweeted, when i read comments saying this is not who we are, i laugh, because this is exactly who country music is.
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i've witnessed it for ten years. you guys should just read some me on a daily basis. it's a cold, hard truth to face, but it is the truth. >> you've got an industry like this one that is built on generations of whitewashing of white supremacy, it's going to take a lot of work to undo that. >> reporter: morgan wallen got a start on "the voice" in 2014. ♪ as his fame grew, so did his bad boy persona. in may 2020, he was arrested for public intoxication and disorderly conduct after being kicked out of kid rock's bar in tennessee and arguing outside when bouncers asked him to leave. in october, he was scheduled to make his debut on "saturday night live" as the musical guest when this video of him kissing strangers and partying maskless with fans in an alabama bar surfaced. clearly not following the show's covid-19 safety protocols. >> my actions this past weekend were pretty short-sighted.
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and they have obviously affected my long-term goals and my dreams. >> reporter: he was invited back two months later, where the cast made fun of him over the incident. ♪ and i thank you in advance for giving this poor southern boy a second yankee chance ♪ >> reporter: after the "snl" episode, he wrote the double album "dangerous" which debuted at number one and is a streaming juggernaut, with over 240 million on demand streams of the songs, like "wasted on you." and the mega hit "more than my hometown." ♪ i love you more ♪ >> there's really only about four viable black artists in country music right now, commercially. people have just been saying, it doesn't have to be that way forever. then just when there's been a lot of discussion about elevating black artists in country music from the margins
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to the mainstream, you have the top artist in the genre come along and use the "n" word. >> reporter: country music has long been thought of as a music for white audiences and dominated by white artists likee luke combs. >> the country music industry is completely separate from all other music genres, all other music industries. they get to make their rules and enforce them however they want to. >> it's almost like morgan put the ball in the industry's court and said, decide who you want to be. >> yeah. anybody black that's in or around this industry, that's not the stuff that keeps us up at night. what keeps us up is not being able to work, is not being able to do what we're called to do, is not being able to get a job as a black guitarist because nobody will let you be black at the front of the stage. those are the issues that we have to get around. >> reporter: dolly parton, who famously said she never discusses politics, began supporting the black lives matter movement, telling billboard -- >> of course black lives matter.
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do we think our white asses are the only ones that matter? no. >> reporter: megastar maren morris, known for her top hits "girl" -- ♪ just meet me in the middle ♪ >> paid homage at her acceptance speech. >> there are so many amazing black women that pioneered and continue to pioneer this genre. the issue of race is not a political issue. the issue of race is a human rights issue. a basic human rights issue. so when i see country artists standing up for that, that is so beautiful to me. because it's not natural and normal for country artists to take those kinds of stands. >> reporter: guyton is part of a new generation of artists pushing to make country music more diverse. >> country music is for everyone, and i want people to feel encouraged that they can love this genre, love this music, show up to the concerts, show up to the signings, show up
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to the award shows, and feel loved, and to see themselves and to be accepted. >> reporter: t.j. osborn also breaking down barriers. the 36-year-old, one half of brothers osborn, known for hits like "stay a little longer." ♪ stay a little longer ♪ >> reporter: came out publicly yesterday in "time" magazine saying, i want to get to the height of my career being completely who i am, i'm very comfortable being gay. >> i'm very proud to put this out there. i want to let you know that the person you know is me. and now you just know more about me. >> reporter: this afternoon, he spoke his truth to ellen. >> it's because you're in country music, and i think that's a genre that is more difficult, it seems, than any other music. why do you think that is? >> you know, i think country really comes from a lot of rural roots that are a lot of kind of christianity, a lot of kind of old-school way of thinking. i really think that's changed a lot over the years.
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i know it's changed a lot over the years. i'm really kind of -- i'm curious to see how it all plays out with us going to rural america. >> reporter: with one footsteping forward, and another rooted in the past, country music is facing a reckoning. what steps do you think the industry needs to take to make this change lasting? >> ultimately it comes down to getting uncomfortable and to doing the things that they have never done before. if you're a songwriter and you're going in a room to write a song, if everybody around you is white, that's a problem. it is important that you look beyond the scope that you are normally used to looking through, that you have to break outside of your comfort zone. now it's time for the industry to meet these people a little further than halfway. >> our thanks to ashan for that. next, love in the time of covid. when immigration and the pandemic collide. but these days, i'm not getting out as much as i'd like to. that's why i take osteo bi-flex.
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♪ the pandemic has changed life as we know it, from how we've lived to how we love. with one long-distance couple hoping to prove that love does conquer all, even when imoperation restrictions threaten to tear them apart. here's abc's maggie rulli. >> reporter: in atlanta, georgia, a 27-year-old american, abby madsen, puts the final touches on the nursery for her first child, a boy to be named isa isaac. she thought her venezuelan fiance would be at her side as
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they prepare for the big moment. instead, he's stuck in peru. >> we had a lot of hope we both would be in the united states together for the birth of our child. now i'm 39 weeks pregnant. so the baby can really come any day. and i'm here in the u.s., and alejandro is in lima. and we actually haven't seen any forward progress with his visa application. >> reporter: with time ticking, the couple was forced to make a heartbreaking decision. abby left for the u.s. in october to have the baby in the states, while alejandro continues to wait out the visa process in peru. >> right when i was going through security, and i was by myself, i felt like i wanted to cry. and then i just remembered, like, no, i'm going to do this for my son.
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>> reporter: this is just a snapshot of the kind of life changing choices people all over the world are weighing as the covid-19 pandemic continues to upend immigration operations. temporary closures of consulates and embassies. covid restrictions in waiting rooms. reduced staffing. all adding to a backlog of cases and longer wait times for anxious applicants. >> may of last year, the overall number of visas, both temporary and permanent, they climbed by approximately 95%. so there was a precipitous decline in the total number of visas issued. >> reporter: a state department spokesperson tells abc news, u.s. embassies and consulates are working to resume routine visa services, however, the
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pandemic continues to severely impact the number of visas our embassies and consulates are able to process. we do not expect to be able to safely return to prepandemic workload levels until mid-2021 at the earliest. we first met abby and alejandro last july after peru's sudden shutdown due to the pandemic left hundreds of americans stranded with no way to get home. abby had been living in peru for two years when she fell in love with alejandro, who worked with her at a nonprofit supporting venezuelan refugees. >> in the way that we met is in his english class, he wrote me a letter in english. one day he found me a piece of venezuelan chocolate. so that's kind of how we started. >> reporter: it didn't take long for the pair to realize that they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together.
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they started the visa application process in june, before they learned they were pregnant. later, hoping it would be approved in time for them to give birth to their first child together in america. >> we're just really hoping for the best at this point. and really hoping that since we've got a couple of months, that a miracle could happen, or something amazing could happen. >> reporter: according to the immigration law group boundless, processing time for a fiance visa like theirs would take six
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to nine months, before the pandemic. even though state department announced augus fiance visas, ing. alendro have yet to hear word on where they stand in the process. over seven months since they filed. in lima, peru, where alejandro lives, a new surge of covid cases put the city in the highest level of lockdown. residents only permitted to go outside for one hour each day. the embassy there is closed until about mid-february. >> i really understand the measures they're trying to take for health and safety reasons. it is a little bit frustrating, because now that option to push paperwork through isn't available. >> reporter: the timing could not be worse. as we checked in with them over multiple days, an outbreak of covid-19 hit the home where alejandro was staying. what's the hardest part being away from him now, especially knowing he's with people that are sick, and could get sick
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himself? >> the hardest part about being away is the unknowns. i don't know if he's going to get sick, or i don't know if he has everything he needs. >> reporter: after the call, abby told us alejandro has developed possible covid symptoms. she says his home lacks basic medical supplies, medicine, and regular access to clean water. the couple filed several requests to expedite his case before the outbreak, but all were rejected. >> i understand that you may have maxed out on expedited visas, what does that mean? >> they said they were denying my most recent request, the 11th one, and they said, we will not grant any subsequent requests. when i got that email, i felt a little discouraged. i'm still looking for other ways to get alejandro here as soon as possible. >> reporter: though he won't be in atlanta for the birth of their son. he says they don't regret their decision to be apart for the sake of their baby.
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>> reporter: abby remains hopeful that there is a bright future for all three of them in america. >> it might be hard for us right now to be apart, but i have to believe that something incredible will happen in the future, and i have to believe that my son can have a better life in the u.s. and can have a better life if he's a citizen. >> our thanks to maggie. up next, life in a day of 2020. want to brain better? unlike ordinary memory supplements— neuriva has clinically proven ingredients that fuel 5 indicators of brain performance. memory, focus, accuracy, learning, and concentration.
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♪ finally tonight, one world you're watching a story unfold around the globe. life, love, loss.
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videos all crowdsourced from 192 countries to create the new documentary "life in a day." >> i ask people, anyone around the world, to film something that is interesting to them, on the same day, everywhere in the world. that day was the 25th of july, 2020. >> a celebration of all of life's complexities in a year like no other. "life in a day" will be released on youtube this saturday. that's "nightline." thanks so much for watching. i'm it's time for the ultimate sleep number event on the new sleep number 360 smart bed what if i sleep hot? ...or cold? no problem, with temperature balancing you can sleep better together. can it help keep me asleep? absolutely, it intelligently senses your movements and automatically adjusts to keep you both effortlessly comfortable. will it help me keep up with mom? you got this. so you can really promise better sleep?


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