At Sunday night's Grammy Awards, singers, songwriters, musicians and producers weren't the only ones honored. The Las Vegas tribute at the 2018 Grammys shined a light on the horrors of Oct. 1, 2017, in a beautiful and moving way. Artists who performed at the Route 91 Harvest Festival on that fateful night when a gunman opened fire from a hotel window, killing 59 people and wounding hundreds of others, came together yet again to ensure that these victims weren't forgotten. Country stars Eric Church, Maren Morris and Brothers Osborne joined together for a musical tribute to the lives lost and changed forever on that night.
The artists took the stage together, speaking about the healing power of music and mentioning the attack that also took place in Manchester earlier last year which killed 22 people. "Tonight, to honor those we've lost, Eric, Brothers Osborne and I, who all performed in Las Vegas that tragic weekend, wanted to come together and honor the memory of the beautiful, music-loving souls so cruelly taken from us," Morris said after taking the Grammys stage.
As they played Eric Clapton's "Tears of Heaven," names of victims were projected on the backdrop behind the artists. It seems that this performance was meant to be seen as somewhat of a healing experience for both artists and fans, who so often think of concerts and festivals as a safe space where they're free to express themselves and come together with the people around them.
"Live music events have always provided a safe space for fans to gather in a shared celebration of music," Neil Portnow president & CEO of the Recording Academy, said in a statement, according to Vulture. “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."
Ahead of the performance, members of Brothers Osborne told the Tennessean that though there were a lot of nerves associated with the tribute, they were eager to take the spotlight away from the artists and focus directly on the victims and their families. "I think I will be far more emotional than nervous," T.J. Osborne told the newspaper. “That’s really my worry, is getting through the performance in that regard. It’s an incredible honor to not only play the Grammys, but to do it for that occasion."
"At the end of the day, I hope we can help heal something at least a little bit," another member of the group, John Osborne, added. Maren Morris, another part of the Grammys tribute who was there at the October festival, has responded to the shooting in other ways prior to the Grammys tribute. According to Rolling Stone, her song "Dear Hate" was released in direct response to the shooting, though she had initially written it days after the Charleston, South Carolina, church shooting. "I've had the song in my pocket for the last few years and I never knew when to release it," Morris told the magazine. "I wanted to be precious with it because it is such a sensitive subject. It's just insane how relevant the message still is today."
Morris spoke about how her performance at the festival, which took place earlier in the evening, was one of her favorite shows all year — making the rest of the night's events even more jarring. "The festival was so fun and well-organized. It was very secure, it felt so safe to be there, and it was one of the favorite festivals I've played," she said in the same interview. "You couldn't even see the edge of the crowd, it was that big. It sounds cliché I guess, but it just seemed like the least likely place where something this tragic could go down."
Eric Church has also been vocal about his heartbreak regarding the shooting. According to another Tennessean piece, he performed at the Grand Ole Opry in the days following the shooting, and performed an emotional rendition of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" in memory of the victims. As he did so, he left two empty seats in the audience to pay tribute to Sonny Melton, who was one of the victims at the show, and his now-widowed wife, Heather.
It can often seem, as so many tragedies and controversies swarm the news cycle each and every day, that certain things are forgotten or moved on from much more quickly than they ought to be. The Las Vegas shooting, if these stars have anything to say about it, won't be one one of them. The 2018 Grammys tribute was a reminder that the events of the Route 91 Harvest Festival will continue to linger in the hearts of not only country music fans, but of people across the country.