The country music world has been grappling with the aftermath of the mass shooting that claimed 58 lives during the last day of Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas on Sunday (10/1). Eric Church — who headlined the first day of the festival last Friday night (9/29) — spoke about the shooting during his Wednesday (10/4) show at the Grand Ole Opry, debuting a song dedicated to the victims.
He reminisced on the lively Harvest Festival crowd, with fans holding up boots when he played “These Boots,” American flags during “How ‘Bout You,” and records during “Record Year.” “I was so moved by it,” he said, “mainly because I looked at them and went, ‘This is my crowd. I’ve seen this crowd all year. They’re mine.’”
Church said that he didn’t want to play at the Grand Ole Opry, but then he watched an interview with a widow of one of his fans. “Last night, somebody sent me a video of a lady named Heather Melton, and she was talking to Anderson Cooper on CNN. And she had on our Church Choir tour shirt.” She had gone to Las Vegas to see Eric Church “because he was Sonny’s [her husband, who died protecting Melton from bullets]… he was his guy.”
When she said they had tickets to Church’s show at the Grand Ole Opry, he changed his mind about cancelling the show. “The reason I’m here tonight is because of Heather Melton,” he said. “What I saw, that moment in time that was frozen, there’s no bullets that can take it away.”
He wrote a song about the shooting called “Why Not Me,” a dirge mourning the victims from the Route 91 Harvest Festival. “That night, something broke in me when that happened,” he said. “And the only way I’ve ever fixed anything that’s been broken in me is with music.”
Watch his performance of “Why Not Me” below:
This article originally appeared on Billboard.