On a windy, overcast fall evening in Music City, Grammy winners, Country-Music-Hall-of-Famers, actors, singer/songwriters and the mayor gathered in Nashville’s Ascend Amphitheater to memorialize nearly 60 innocent people who lost their lives less than 24 hours earlier at a country concert in Las Vegas.
“This is the kind of city that will wrap its arms around you, and that is exactly what we're here to do tonight,” the evening’s master of ceremonies, actor Charles Esten said as he began.
The Grand Ole Opry’s General Manager, Sally Williams, hinted at the grief artists like Jason Aldean, Jake Owen and Chris Young will be bringing with them, as they return home from the Route 91 Harvest Festival where at least 59 died and more than 500 were hurt.
“Over the next couple of days, Nashvillians who were on site last night will be returning home,” she said. “It will be our responsibility to reach out and hold them up, as they process what happened. Embrace them, listen to them, and love them.”
“Thank you for the opportunity to come and lift up 58 families who lost somebody last night,” Country-Music-Hall-of-Famer Vince Gill said, before singing his classic, “Go Rest High on That Mountain.”
“Honored to be here as a voice for the innocent,” he added. “May we never lose our voice... may we never lose our voice for innocent people.” After Vince’s song, his wife Amy Grant joined him on stage, urging the crowd to lean over and touch the person beside them, before leading a prayer.
Nashville Mayor Meghan Barry expressed her sadness that this was, in fact, the second Monday night in a row when she’d led a vigil after a mass shooting. Last week’s followed violence at a local church.
“Death visited two places where people were simply doing the things that give life meaning and give life joy,” she observed.
Australian superstar Keith Urban introduced an emotional version of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge over Troubled Water” with a very personal story.
“Our nine-year-old, as I was driving her to school this morning, said to me, 'Dad, you seem quiet,” referring to Sunday Rose, his oldest child with actress Nicole Kidman.
“I said, 'Yeah, really there was a lot of people killed last night.' And she said, 'Did you know any of them?' And I said, 'Not that I know of.' And then she said, 'Well then why are you so sad?' I said, 'Well, first of all, these were innocent people, horrifically taken,” Keith explained.
He went on to express why an unfathomable tragedy like this hits the country music community especially hard.
“They're like family,” Urban said of the fans who lost their lives at the outdoor concert. “It's the one thing about country music that's always been at the center of it, in that it is community. It's about community. And so I did know those people, in that way, and it just really hit me.”
Grammy winners Alison Krauss and The Cox Family closed the Nashville Vigil for Las Vegas, offering rarely-sung verses of the classic hymn “Amazing Grace.”
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