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During Wednesday night’s 2017 CMT Artists of the Year awards show, honorees Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, Chris Stapleton and Keith Urban opened the show with a somber tribute to the victims of the countless tragedies that have occurred in the U.S. over the past month. The mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas was of particular focus, as Aldean headlined the event as the tragedy occurred.
Bryan began the tribute with a statement on the effects of music. “Music can be so powerful, and we have never needed it more than we do right now.” He continued, “Music moves us. Music brings us together, and tonight, we hope music can be a part of the healing.”
The spoken tribute came just after Little Big Town joined Andra Day for a performance of her moving hit song “Rise Up,” which was also dedicated to those who suffered tragedy this year.
Aldean brought the tribute back close to his own heart as he reflected on the events that took place at Route 91, where a gunman killed 58 people and injured more than 500 as Aldean performed in front of the crowd of 22,000.
“We’ve been tested beyond our worst nightmares the past few months. Heartbroken doesn’t even begin to explain how some of us feel,” he said. “But we have proven time and again in this country that we have the power to overcome anything that threatens our way of life or our freedom. We dedicate this night to you and to everyone who’s experienced loss or tragedy in the past few months. Like Keith said, we will get through this together.”
Watch the entire tribute below.
This story first appeared on Billboard.com.
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