On Sunday, April 15, the country music community will ascend upon Las Vegas for the first major event since 58 people perished during the unthinkable shooting during the Route 91 Harvest Festival. While the night is typically a celebration of the genre, the 53rd Academy of Country Music Awards will not shy away from the tragedy by addressing the massacre in a touching tribute at the start of the three-hour telecast.
“This is the elephant in the room,” explained the Academy of Country Music Awards executive producer R.A. (RAC) Clark to Billboard. “We are going to address it right at the top of the show. Rather than say exactly what we’re going to do, I would prefer to keep it a mystery until we do. But I feel like we found the appropriate voices to put to it. Then we have to get into our show — not leave it behind, but focus on what’s ahead of us.”
Someone who agreed with Clark’s sentiment was Entertainer of the Year nominee Garth Brooks, who Billboard reports, is not expected to attend.
“Sometimes in an awards show, there are moments that can happen that are bigger than the whole show itself,” he said. “I’m hoping there’s going to be some magic, because it’s laying there to be had, and it couldn’t happen to better people in a more tragic situation, how they all reacted and how they acted together.”
The concept of returning to Vegas will be a heavy one for the entire country music community, though also a cathartic one. While they tossed around the idea to move cities, the idea was quickly shut down.
“To go back to Vegas this year just absolutely seems purposeful,” added ACM CEO Pete Fisher. “It’s going to be emotional, and for those who were on those festival grounds on Oct. 1, I think emotionally, they will find themselves kind of pushing through some very difficult things.”
While Clark remains mum about what to expect from what’s sure to be an incredibly moving moment, the ACM has already revealed many other moments to be expected. Among them includes the television debut of Carrie Underwood’s new single, “Cry Pretty,” and performances from Jason Aldean, Little Big Town, Lady Antebellum, Kenny Chesney, among others.
The 53rd ACM Awards, hosted by Reba, will air live from Las Vegas on Sunday, April 15, at 8 p.m. EST on the CBS Television Network.