Given the recent tragedy at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas that left 58 country music fans dead, this year’s Country Music Association Awards included a very special "In Memoriam" section to its usual list of departed stars.
Carrie Underwood returned from commercial break to a dark, silent theater lit only by small fake candles held by the crowd to sing the hymn “Softly and Tenderly Jesus is Calling.” Over her booming voice, images of the many artists and names in country music that have died this year flashed across the screen. Glen Campbell, Tom Petty and Troy Gentry were among those given special mention during this year’s moment of remembrance.
At the end of the usual list, images of more unfamiliar faces came on the screen in small groups. It quickly became apparent that the faces were those of the 58 victims that lost their lives in Las Vegas on October 1, 2017 when a gunman opened fire on the crowd in what is now the most deadly mass shooting in American history.
After each face had gotten time on screen, all the victims were united in one collage with the date of the attack above their images.
Previously in the show, hosts Brad Paisley and Underwood mentioned not only the Las Vegas tragedy, but others in Charlottesville, New York, Sutherland Springs as well as the hurricanes that rocked Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.
“This has been a year marked by tragedy… including so many in our country music family,” Underwood told the crowd. “So tonight, we’re going to do what families do come together, pray together. Cry together and sing together too.”