Eric Church headlined at the Route 91 Harvest Festival. Of course, his success and talent as a country music star led him to be the headliner so performing on stage was well within his normal experience.
Yet, something struck Church as different about the crowd in Las Vegas. He described his feelings about that crowd during his concert at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville.
Church explained, “I was so moved by it, mainly because I looked at ‘em and went ‘This is my crowd. I’ve seen this crowd all year, they’re mine.’”
He even got off stage during his Las Vegas performance to personally shake the hands of some of his fans while he thanked them for coming. The devastating shooting that later took place in that very same place hit Church in a deeply personal way.
“And 48 hours later, in those places that I stood, was carnage. Those are my people. Those are my fans,” Church told the Nashville crowd.
He then admitted that he didn’t even want to be at this scheduled Nashville concert that was already part of his tour. It was difficult to find the motivation to pick up his guitar for a crowd.
The night prior to the Nashville performance, he was sent a video that would change his mind. The particular video showed a woman named Heather Melton wearing an Eric Church shirt as she was being interviewed by Anderson Cooper on CNN, but she has purposefully worn the shirt in many of her interviews.
Melton’s husband, Sonny, had shielded her when the gunman began shooting at the music festival crowd during Jason Aldean’s performance. He died a hero as he was fatally shot while protecting his wife.
Church was shocked to hear the answer Melton had when she was asked what brought them to Las Vegas. Church told the crowd, “She goes, ‘We went there to see Eric Church because he was Sonny’s [her husband who died] it was his guy, and we went there to see his guy.’”
The couple was supposed to be at the Grand Ole Opry performance as well. Church pointed to two empty seats in row F while trying not to break down into tears.
The seats remained empty to remember the couple and honor Sonny Melton. Church then performed his new song, “Why Not Me,” that he wrote to honor everybody affected by the shooting, especially the victims and survivors.