The country community returned to Las Vegas six months after the tragedy at Route 91 Harvest where 58 country fans died and hundreds more were injured after a man fired into the festival crowd. The 53rd ACM Awards opened with a respectful tribute to the victims with Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Thomas Rhett and Maren Morris providing a touching speech to remember the lives lost during the October 1 concert.
“Tonight we wanted to open the show with something that sums up what it’s like for our country music family to be back in Las Vegas for the first time since October 1st,” Aldean, who was headlining at the festival at the time of the shooting, said. “We thought about starting with a song but it’s a lot bigger than a single song. It’s everything you’ll hear tonight: the songs that bring us to our feet, make you wanna pull someone close, or just live in the moment. Nothing can take that away from us.”
Lambert then chimed in, discussing the powerful community that is the country genre. “On this night, our country community, the people here in Las Vegas, and all of you at home are united through the healing power of music,” she said.
Bryan, who would later go on to perform his uplifting hit single “Most People Are Good,” spoke to those who experienced tragedy firsthand. “For those of us who have experienced tragedy and unexpected loss, music helps us remember what really matters in life,” he reasoned.
“Music does so much more than provide an escape from the pain,” Morris added. “It inspires us, it soothes us and it makes us stronger.” Meanwhile, Rhett further explained how music “gives us the chance for rejoicing in what we have and telling us there’s always a reason to carry on.”
As the lights went up and each artist was shown center stage beside each other at the MGM Grand, Aldean finished the touching tribute.
“With respect and love for the victims, our friends, family and fans, we celebrate the music tonight. America, this is your ACM Awards,” he concluded.
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