Eric Church broke down in tears onstage at the Grand Ole Opry Wednesday night, talking about Sunday night’s deadly mass shooting at a country music festival in Las Vegas.
Church had played the Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas on Friday night. As Jason Aldean performed two nights later, a gunman opened fire from a 32nd-floor hotel room, killing 58 people and injuring more than 500.
“This past Friday, I played the Harvest music festival in Vegas,” Church said onstage in Nashville. “Forty-eight hours later, those places that I stood, it was carnage. Those were my people. Those were my fans.”
Church said he was moved to write a song in honor of two of his fans from Tennessee, Heather and Sonny Melton. Sonny Melton died while shielding his wife, Heather, from gunfire.
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“I didn’t want to be here tonight,” Church said. “I didn’t want to play guitar. But last night somebody sent me a video of a lady named Heather Melton and she was talking to Anderson Cooper on CNN. She goes, ‘We went there to see Eric Church because he was Sonny’s … it was his guy. We went there to see his guy. Then she said, ‘We have tickets for the Grand Ole Opry tomorrow night.’ The reason I’m here tonight is because of Heather and Sonny.”
He said two of the seats at the Opry remained empty for the Meltons.
He then played his new song, “Why Not Me.”
“The only way I’ve ever fixed anything that’s been broken in me is with music,” he said.
Church is a native of Granite Falls, a town in Caldwell County, and is an alumnus of Appalachian State University.