Morgan Wallen took home album of the year at this year’s Academy of Country Music Awards for “Dangerous: The Double Album,” marking his first major country music award since his 2021 N-word scandal.

In his speech, Wallen said, “When I started this album, I was a kid. By the time I put it out, I was a father. And that’s become more important to me than anything else.” He also thanked his fans and those who have shown him “grace.”

Wallen continued: “To my son, this album would signify that his daddy was a fighter and he chased his dreams and worked hard to make them a reality. I want to say a special thank you to all the songwriters, producers and musicians that played on this album. I wish you were standing here next to me, this project would not be complete without all of you.”

While Wallen drew widespread backlash after he was caught saying the racial slur in a video last year, his award prospects and position on country music charts did not suffer. Last year, Wallen won three Billboard Music Awards despite being banned from the award ceremony. In December, his collaboration with rapper Lil Durk, titled “Broadway Girls,” landed the country singer at No. 1 on Billboard’s R&B/hip-hop chart.

For months following the scandal, however, Wallen’s music was dropped by top radio chains including Cumulus Media, iHeartRadio and Entercom, the cable network CMT, the satellite service SiriusXM and the streaming service Pandora. His catalog was also removed from any visible spots on DSPs like Spotify and Apple Music.

Hosted by Dolly Parton, this year’s ACM Awards are taking place live at the Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas and streaming exclusively on Amazon Prime Video in a two-hour format with limited commercials.