The 51st annual Country Music Association Awards kicked off with a tribute to the victims of last month’s Las Vegas tragedy. Darius Rucker led an all-star group of country superstars in a rendition of his Hootie and the Blowfish hit “Hold My Hand.” On stage with him was a who’s-who of the country world including Keith Urban, Lady Antebellum, Tim McGraw & Faith Hill, Garth Brooks, Reba McEntire and more.
CMA Awards hosts Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley only paid tribute to victims of the horrific shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Vegas but also the most recent mass shootings that have made headlines. In addition, they recognized the victims of the hurricanes that devastated Texas, Florida, the Caribbean and Puerto Rico.
The performance comes after last week’s backlash the Country Music Association faced when organizers set guidelines telling journalists not to ask about the Las Vegas shooting when interviewing talent during the awards. The backpedal came after Paisley and others spoke out against the ban.
“Our music lifts people up, and that’s what we’re here to do tonight,” Paisley said during tonight’s ceremony, which aired on ABC. “So this year’s show’s dedicated to all those we lost and to all those who are still healing. We love you, and we will never forget you.”
The duo lightened things up by joking to the audience how the ceremony was a politics-free zone, poking fun at the aforementioned ban. Paisley and Underwood went on to sing a song set to the tune of Underwood’s “Before He Cheats” which immediately skewered Donald Trump.
“In the middle of the night from the privacy of a gold-plated White House toilet seat he writes NFL and covfefe,” they sang. “Til little rocket man starts a nuclear war, maybe next time he’ll think before he tweets.”