The Academy of Country Music Awards opened with a look at one of its darkest moment: the October mass shooting.
“We thought about starting with a song, but it’s a lot bigger than a single song,” Jason Aldean said to open the show. “It’s everything you’ll hear tonight: the songs that bring us to our feet, make you want to pull someone close or just live in the moment. Nothing can take that from us.”
“On this night, our country community, the people in Las Vegas and all of you at home are united through the healing power of music,” Miranda Lambert continued.
“For those of us who have experienced tragedy and unexpected loss, music helps us remember what really matters in life,” Luke Bryan said.
Aldean was performing at the Rout 91 Harvest Festival on Oct. 1 when Stephen Paddock opened fire from the 32rd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel.
Fifty-eight people were killed and 851 injured.
Survivors of the mass shooting sat in on Aldean’s rehearsal and were able to meet and talk to the singer after his runthrough Friday night.
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“What happened here in October, I think, will sort of bond all of us kind of forever,” Aldean said to his stand-in audience in a clip posted on the ACM Twitter account.
“I think it’s cool to come back and just kind of show people that we’re not gonna be scared. Fear’s not gonna win out. We’re gonna keep doing our thing.”
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