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Tragedy struck the night of Oct. 1 in Las Vegas when, during Jason Aldean’s closing set at the Route 91 Harvest festival, a gunman opened fire, killing 58 and leaving hundreds more wounded. Before that, 23 people died following a May terrorist attack outside England’s Manchester Arena just after the conclusion of an Ariana Grande concert.
At the Grammys Sunday, three performers who shared the 2017 Route 91 Harvest bill with Aldean — Maren Morris, Eric Church, and Brothers Osborne — took the stage for a somber performance honoring the victims of gun violence and terrorism at concerts in the last year.
“All of country music was reminded in the most tragic way the connection we share with our fans and the healing power music will always provide,” Church told the Madison Square Garden and TV audiences.
“The painful truth is that, this year, in just those two events, 81 music lovers just like us went out to enjoy a night of music and never came back home, with many more injured and still healing,” Morris added, saying she, Church, and Brothers Osborne wanted to “honor the memories of the beautiful music-loving souls so cruelly taken from us.”
They did so performing Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven,” set against a backdrop adorned with messages and the names of those who died in the two attacks.
“Live music events have always provided a safe space for fans to gather in a shared celebration of music,” Recording Academy president Neil Portnow said in a statement prior to the show. “Sadly, that wasn’t always the case this past year. We believe it’s incredibly important to pay tribute to those who lost their lives in these senseless tragedies and to remind musicians and music lovers alike that live music will continue to be a powerful force that unites us all.”
Added Grammy Awards executive producer Ken Ehrlich: “In many ways, our show encapsulates the year in music. … We didn’t feel like we’d be doing our jobs if we didn’t reflect on these tremendous losses.”
The Vegas shooting and Manchester terrorist attack weren’t the only deadly massacres to occur at a live music event in recent years: a November 2015 terrorist attack at Paris’ Le Bataclan claimed 90 lives.