Combs appears in video with Confederate flag sticker on guitar
Friday, February 5, 2021 – Luke Combs appeared in a 2015 video by country rapper Upchurch with a Confederate flag bumper sticker on his guitar and numerous Confederate flags in the video.
The Confederate flag is widely thought to be a racist symbol and associated with the segregated South.
Combs also has been the object of question for his use of the "Ok" hand gesture, which he did during his appearance on Saturday Night Live on Feb. 1, 2020. The hand gesture is considered a white supremacist sign.
Attention was brought to both and intensified on social media this week in the wake of Morgan Waller using the N-word on Sunday night outside his residence in Nashville. Waller was suspended by his record label, Big Loud, and radio stations overwhelmingly stopped playing his songs.
Comb's representatives at his record label and his publicist did not respond to a request comment on why he had the Confederate flag sticker on his guitar, participated in the video with the flags or used the hand gesture on SNL.
Black country singer Mickey Guyton tweeted early Friday morning, "I'm completely sick to my stomach."
Combs played guitar and sang on Ryan Upchurch's Outlaw? video, which was posted on Oct. 22, 2015. The video clearly depicts Combs playing the guitar with the Confederate flag sticker on the bottom of his guitar.
The video also depicts numerous Confederate flags throughout the video.
Combs flashed the "Ok" sign – making a circle with his thumb and forefinger and his three other figures pointing up – while singing "Lovin' On You" on Saturday Night Live. At 1:40 into the song, he makes the hand gesture, while at the same time singing the line "three chords and the truth."
Singer Margo Price sharply criticized Combs on Twitter on Thursday. "I've never said we should cancel Luke. I would like to have faith in humanity that people can change; but it's important to show what kinds of artists many of the major labels here in Nashville are backing."
"Art has a major impact on our culture and the confederate flag is such a dark symbol of hate a racism, it immediately feels divisive and unwelcoming. It definitely doesn't say 'unity' or 'black folks are welcome at our concerts.'"
Combs and bluegrass guitar ace Billy Strings released a new song, "The Great Divide," on Tuesday. The song is one of coming together with the chorus:
"We're all so far, so far apart now
It's as deep as it is wide
We're about to fall apart now
If we can't reach the other side
We gotta find a way across the great divide"
Combs and Strings wrote the song with Wyatt Durrette last June. The song was slated to be on a bluegrass disc that Combs was working on, "but that has been put on pause for now and album 3 is up next."
Despite the political overtones of the song, Combs tweeted, "However, I thought now was a good time to put this song out with everything that has been and is going on in the world. It isn't meant to be political or try and tell you what to think or believe; that's not my job."
"It's just me saying how I felt when I wrote it, and I wanted y'all to hear it," Combs tweeted.
Price took issue with that as well.
"So, for someone to release a song about unity and then immediately reassure people that it's not political seems tone deaf in today's society. Especially given his recent past and on the first day of black history month."
"People want to talk about 'fake woke' but this sort of empty pandering is sloppy & dangerous. The recent events Lady A/Lady Antebellum & Morgan Wallen, it's time for a reckoning with the gatekeepers of country music to stop trying to protect that rebel dollar."
Combs will participate in a question-and-answer session with Maren Morris as part of CRS21 in Nashville on Feb. 17 about how their roles as artists matter in the changing culture of country music. A press release said they will talk with NPR music critic Ann Powers about "what country music means in light of its complicated and often problematic past and how artists can hold themselves accountable in helping shape a genre that is as diverse as America itself."
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