One Year Later, Country Music Remembers Las Vegas Shooting
Country music is somewhat stereotyped as being heavy on the heartbreak and hard times, but a year removed from a Las Vegas concert turning into the worst mass shooting in American history, there has been plenty of both, along with much soul-searching.
The last possible thing I thought could be happening was somebody shooting a gun at us,” (Jason) Aldean told The Tennessean months later. “Once you figure out what’s going on … what people don’t realize is that we didn’t know where it was coming from. For all we knew he was on the ground backstage walking around mowing people down. It’s the worst thing I’ve ever experienced, hands down.”
Country music has spent a year coming to terms with the deadliest mass shooting in United States history, a massacre that, arbitrarily or not, targeted the genre’s fans and its artists. The shooting, which left more than 500 people wounded and 58 dead, strained the gun culture that has long permeated country music, with some major stars taking the once-unthinkable measure of calling for stricter firearm regulations.
Artists have coped through songs that address the tragedy head-on and, despite tightened security in the wake of the attack, some describe a new awareness of their own vulnerability every time they take the stage. At the same time, the country music industry has rallied around its fans and musicians, creating a network of mental health and support programs to help the healing process.
“Country music possesses a really powerful ability to connect not only the hearts of individual fans but our entire nation,” said Academy of Country Music CEO Pete Fisher. “I really feel like country music was the medium in which a lot of that healing was realized, but there’s more healing to go. Country music is about real people and real lives, and if something is on people’s hearts, you can trust country music is going to meet them there.”