East Tennessean Morgan Wallen has remained true to his roots throughout his skyrocketing career – his pride in his hometown of Sneedville, Tennessee playing an integral role in songs like “More Than My Hometown” and “Tennessee Fan.” last Thursday (3/2), stepping on to his high school alma mater’s baseball field for the first time since graduation, that pride was on full display after surprising Gibbs’ senior class in their high school auditorium, hand-delivering the news of his impromptu performance to follow that evening.
Brought to students by Spotify, Wallen performed an hour+ set including eight new songs from One Thing At A Time to the 2023 senior class, along with Gibbs High School faculty, the baseball team and more local guests. Guests could create their own Gibbs High School baseball card to commemorate the evening, write letters on album-themed postcards and participate in other fun games and activities all housed on the field so much of Wallen’s teamsmanship stems from.
It was a night the senior class nor Wallen are likely to forget. From a surprise presentation of a 2021 championship ring by baseball coach Geff Davis, to having his parents, son and both grandmothers in the crowd, a humbled and grateful Wallen reflected, “This is so cool. There are a lot of special people here. Having graduated in 2011, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel coming back – but this place will always hold a special place in my heart.”
The most humbling part of the evening wasn’t the jubilant crowd or the celebration of another milestone album – but was in his ability to give back to the place that built the foundation of who he has become. In a night filled with surprises, Wallen topped them all, presenting a $35,000 check on behalf of the Morgan Wallen Foundation (MWF) to go toward providing instruments for the school’s students.
“I started the Morgan Wallen Foundation about a year ago – It combines my love of sports and music. Without those two things I don’t know where I’d be, I don’t know what my life would look like. I know it would look a lot different, so that’s what I’m going to try to do – give back to those two areas, as well as communities in need. That’s our focus.” Wallen shared.
“We wanted to say thank you tonight and help you out with a couple things, so we wrote a $35,000 check,” he continued. “It’s going to go towards instruments for the choral department, instruments for the band department and then for baseball – a new field cart – so we can help get this field back in shape after y’all trampled on it tonight.”
“The impact that Morgan has had on both the country genre and Spotify is undeniable. He is one of the most streamed artists on our platform, and we are thrilled to celebrate his new album with a deeply personal event in his hometown,” shared Brittany Schaffer, Spotify Head of Nashville Label Partnerships, Music Strategy. “We cannot wait to watch fans connect with his new music in person and on our platform once the record comes out this week.”
The Morgan Wallen Foundation provides opportunities for children to thrive by creating access to music and sports. The mission is inspired by Wallen’s own childhood and how access to both music and sports transformed and enriched his life in ways he could have never imagined – instilling in him the values and benefits of discipline, hard work and commitment. MWF supports programs that share its core belief that Every Child Deserves A Chance to thrive, play and create and is also dedicated to being there for communities in times of need, whether offering a helping hand during natural disasters with urgently needed supplies or turning concert parking lots into food distribution centers providing bags of groceries to food insecure families.
“Morgan wears his heart on his sleeve as an artist and songwriter, and he brings fans into his world through his lyrics,” said Miller Guth, Spotify Artist & Label Partnerships Manager for Nashville. “We wanted to do just that: bring fans to an influential location of his past where they’ll get to know him even more and witness an unforgettable performance.”
To continue the celebration of the album that has already yielded 2 No. 1 hits at country radio ahead of its release – 2x Platinum “You Proof” and Platinum “Thought You Should Know,” co-written by Wallen alongside Nicolle Galyon and Miranda Lambert – Wallen will host another free-to-fans show at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena tomorrow night (March 3). The at-capacity celebration distributed every ticket available in just 3 hours and 5 minutes with fans lining up for blocks around the downtown arena.