Country singer Luke Combs is apologizing for his previous use of Confederate flag imagery.
The 30-year-old performer took part in a Country Radio Seminar event on Wednesday, Feb. 17, where he discussed fellow singer Morgan Wallen's recent controversy over video showing him using the N-word.
Luke told moderator and NPR critic Ann Powers and participant Maren Morris that he himself has changed over the years. He addressed the fact that he used the Confederate flag in previous photos and in the 2015 music video for Ryan Upchurch's version of his song "Can I Get an Outlaw."
"There is no excuse for those images," Luke shared. "I think, as a younger man, that was an image that I associated to mean something else. 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 [when the images were created], I am now aware how painful that image can be to someone else. ... I would never want to be associated with something that brings so much hurt to someone else."
The Grammy nominee continued, "I apologize for being associated with that. Hate is not a part of my core values, and it's not something I consider a part of myself at all."
Luke said he believes the first step is acknowledging a problem exists, and that he is proof people can change.
"I'm here to learn," he said. "I feel like I'm at this highly successful moment of my career, and I couldn't just sit back and not do anything. I couldn't not say, 'Hey, I want people to know that we, as a genre, care about this issue.'"
His comments follow a national reckoning regarding use of the Confederate flag. Earlier this week, Bachelor Nation's Demi Burnett apologized after a photo resurfaced of her wearing a jacket with the flag on it.
Last year, NASCAR announced that it had banned the flag from its racetracks after driver Bubba Wallace pushed for the initiative.