Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017|8 p.m.
NASHVILLE, Tenn.– Vocalist Jason Aldean and other stars honored victims of a mass shooting at a c and w celebration in Las Vegas instead of accepting awards at the CMT Artists of the Year show Wednesday night.
The format of the program pivoted to focus on victims of the shooting, in addition to those recovering from typhoons and wildfires, with a night of somber homages, inspiring anthems and voices raised in harmony.
Aldean, who was onstage at the Route 91 Harvest Celebration when the shooting took place Oct. 1, stood side-by-side with the night’s other award winners– including Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, Chris Stapleton and Keith Urban– to dedicate the night to music fans. The honorees did not accept awards or provide speeches as normal, but some opted to perform or other musicians performed in their honor.
“We have actually been tested beyond our worst nightmare these previous couple of months,” Aldean stated during the live broadcast from Nashville, Tennessee. “Heartbroken does not even begin to explain how some of us feel. However we have shown time and again in this nation that we have the power to conquer anything that threatens our way of living, or our freedom. We devote this night to you and everybody who has experienced loss or catastrophe in the last few months.”
Aldean closed out the night with a bold and rollicking group performance of “I Will not Back Down” by Tom Petty with Urban, Stapleton and Little Big Town.
Andra Day began the awards show with her anthem “Rise Up,” in a stunning harmony duet by Little Big Town. Then Lee Ann Womack, Danielle Bradbury and rap artist Common joined them for a performance of “Stand Up For Something.”
“On this night when we typically commemorate a year of music, we also want to commemorate a year of incredible human spirit, the spirit we see in our fans every night,” Stapleton said.
“So in some little way we wish to thank you for your resolve and perhaps lift your spirits for simply a moment,” Urban said.
The names of the 58 victims from Las Vegas were listed throughout an in memoriam sector, along with the names of Petty, Gregg Allman, Glen Campbell, Don Williams and Troy Gentry.
Other efficiencies including Bryan singing his single “Quick,” and Stapleton singing his tune “Broken Halos,” a tune that he’s committed to victims of the Vegas shooting.
The Backstreet Boys sang Florida Georgia Line’s emotional ballad “H.O.L.Y.” and Keith Urban carried out a jazzy variation of his tune “Blue Ain’t Your Color.”
Phillip Phillips added some blues licks to Sam Hunt’s mega hit “Body Like a Back Roadway,” which was named song of the year by CMT.
Near the end of the night, Bryan took a moment to honor his buddy Aldean.
“It could have been any among us basing on that stage two weeks ago,” Bryan said. “It’s a headache that nobody ought to need to deal with. Jason has responded with self-respect, care, regard and, some methods, defiance. And we all are proud of him, particularly me.”