CMT Artists of the Year normally celebrates the biggest names in country music, but in light of recent tragedies, the musicians wanted to make sure the victims and survivors were also recognized.
After the opening song, the musicians being honored delivered a message. Luke Bryan said, “Music moves us. Music brings us together. And tonight, we hope music can be part of the healing.”
Chris Stapleton added, “From Las Vegas to Puerto Rico, from Florida and Texas to Charlottesville and California, the entire nation is trying to process these devastating events.”
Throughout the show, CMT promoted cmtonecountry.com. The website is raising funds to help with relief for the victims of the recent fires, hurricanes, and the mass shooting, and to protest violence.
The names of the Las Vegas shooting victims were shown during the in memoriam segment of the show.
Jason Aldean, who was performing at the time of the Route 91 Harvest concert shooting, was the last musician to be honored. Earlier in the night he had said, “Heartbroken doesn’t even begin to explain how some of us feel. 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 has experienced loss or tragedy. Like Keith said, we will get through this together.”
For his honorary performance, Aldean chose Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” — which honored both a legend and a country that is strong and perseveres.
Watch as Miley Cyrus honors Tom Petty with cover of “Wildflowers”:
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