AceShowbiz - Luke Combs is owning up to his past mistake after he caught the flak for his use of the Confederate flag. Joining Maren Morris in an interview for the annual Country Radio Seminar conference on Wednesday, February 17, the 30-year-old singer discussed issues surrounding equality, diversity and racism in country music in the wake of Morgan Wallen racial slur scandal.
Luke, who recently released a unifying anthem "The Great Divide" alongside Billy Strings, took the occasion to address the elephant in the room, which is photos and videos from his early days of career featuring the Confederate flag. "So when I released the song, there were some images that resurfaced of me...and that's not the first time those images have surfaces and have been used against me," he said of the immediate backlash following the release of the song.
"And obviously those are images that I can't take back," he acknowledged. "Obviously in the age of the internet, those things live forever. And there is no excuse for those images." He went on admitting, "It's not okay. As a younger man, that was an image that I associated to mean something else."
He added though, "And 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 to someone else." He continued explaining, "At the time that those images existed, I wasn't aware what that was portraying to the world and to African-American artists in Nashville that were saying, 'Man, I really want to come in and get a deal and do this thing, but how can I be around with these images being promoted?' "
Expressing his remorse over his lack of understanding at the time, the CMA Award-winning artist stated, "I do apologize for that. And I apologize for being associated with that." He added, "It's not about history or this or that, it's about this is something that hurts someone else that I was standing in front of. Knowing that is upsetting to me as a man because I'm all about...I want people to be happy. I want people to feel loved by country music and by our community."
"Hate is not a part of my core values," Luke stressed. "It's not something I consider part of myself at all so I'm just looking to be here not to just say, 'I'm so sorry, please forgive me.' I'm trying to learn, trying to get better."
Noting that "people can change and that people do want to change," he said, "I'm one of those people trying and if you're an artist or anyone out there that is trying to change, you should be able to do it and you should be able to talk about those things and feel comfortable having these conversations."
As for Maren, she addressed the backlash she received for speaking up on Morgan. "This isn't about going after people or a fan base for sport," said the "My Church" songstress. "That doesn't give me pleasure. But I think (saying) 'We're different; we're country; we protect our own; we don't go after people in public.' "
"Well, I mean, going after someone saying the N-word is bad? That's the least we can do is not say that," she added. "I think that your fans are a reflection of you and what you're about. And you can't control a human being, but you absolutely can let them know where you stand. And I appreciate Morgan saying 'Quit defending me' to his fans, because it's indefensible. And he knows that; we know that... All we can do is, so there isn't an elephant in the room, is say that out loud and hold our peers accountable."