Arts & Culture

Stunned country music community mourns after mass shooting in Las Vegas

A gunman killed at least 50 people and injured at least 200 during a country music festival in Las Vegas on Sunday, Oct. 1. The shooter began firing during Jason Aldean’s performance, prompting the crowd to panic and the singer to sprint off stage. (Hannah Dorfman)

Monday morning, the Nashville community was stunned as the country woke up to the horrific news that at least 50 had been killed at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas — the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. The shooting started during the final act of the three-day country music festival, when singer Jason Aldean was several songs into his set.

Bobby Bones, the Nashville-based host of the largest syndicated country morning radio show, spent his hours on air talking about the tragedy, providing news updates. He read text messages out loud from artists and backstage crew members who had seen the shooting. “I don’t even know how to handle this right now,” said Bones, who played the festival Saturday evening with his band, the Raging Idiots. “I’m struggling to process this.”

Bones talked with singer Jake Owen, who performed before Aldean and was backstage when he thought he heard pyrotechnics and then realized it was the sound of bullets.

“We as artists, it’s our obligation. We put on a show so people can have fun and forget about some of the day-to-day life things,” Owen said, as he described seeing kids sitting on their parents’ shoulders during the concert. He said that, going forward, the artists and fans will “not be scared of these cowards that do this . . . we will prevail, that’s what we do as Americans.”

Bones talked about the tightknit Nashville country music community and how the tragedy hit so close to home, especially thinking about all the people in the Las Vegas audience. “I think for all of us in this room, and I think for all of us in Nashville and the country community, we’re all sitting here going, one, this is really terrible that it happened because our fans are the biggest, the No. 1 priority to us,” he said. “So we worry about our fans first.”

Throughout Monday morning, dozens of country stars mourned the tragedy, including many who had performed at the festival:

Those who weren’t in Vegas also weighed in from Nashville and around the world:

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