Eric Church was one of the performers that played the 91 Route Harvest Music Festival this past weekend, that saw 59 people killed and over 500 injured, as gunman Stephen Paddock sprayed bullets over the concert event.
Eric had headlined the first night of the three-day festival. As the tragic events have touched us all, they affected Eric in a way that made him not want to perform his scheduled night at the Opry. But that all changed when he saw Heather Melton, a surgeon who lost her husband that fateful night, talking about the incident on CNN.
Eric took the stage of the Grand Ole Opry and spoke from his heart when recalling the events that took place at the Harvest Music Festival.
“This past Friday I played the Harvest Music Festival in Vegas. I was a headliner. I looked out there at that crowd, in that place. It was our last show of the year. I watched them hold American flags up during “How ‘Bout You.” I watched them put an American scarf around my neck during “Springsteen,” they held records up when I played “Record Year,” they held boots up when I played “These Boots.” I was so moved by it, mainly because I looked out and I went, ‘this is my crowd. I’ve seen this crowd all year, they’re mine. They came from all over the country because it was our last show.'”
Eric went on to describe how he jumped down off that stage amidst the concertgoers, shaking hands, taking pictures and thanking them for coming. “48 hours later, those places that I stood was carnage. Those were my people, those were my fans,” he said choking back tears.
“I didn’t want to be here tonight. I didn’t want to play a guitar. I didn’t walk on this stage. But last night, let me try to get this out. Last night somebody sent me a video of a lady named Heather Melton. She was talking to Anderson Cooper on CNN and she had on our Church Choir tour shirt. He said, “What brought you to Vegas.” And she goes, “We went there to see Erich Church because he was Sonny’s, [her husband who died], it was his guy. And we went there to see his guy.’ Then she said, ‘We have tickets for the Grand Ole Opry tomorrow night.’ Over here Section 3 Row F. If you are in row F there are some empty seats and that’s their seats.
“The reason I’m here tonight is because of Heather Melton, her husband Sonny, who died, and every person that was there. Because let me tell you something, I saw that crowd. I saw them with their hands in the air, I saw them with boots in the air. And what I saw that moment in time that was frozen, there’s no amount of bullets that can take away,” Eric continued wiping away tears. “That night something broke in me. The only way I’ve ever fixed anything that’s been broken in me, is with music.”
As the crowd yelled, “We love you Eric,” toward the stage, Eric played a song he’d written, to help begin the healing that so many of us need.