Country star Eric Church fought back tears on Wednesday as he paid tribute to the victims of Sunday night’s horrific mass shooting at a music festival in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Church, who delivered his touching tribute at Nashville’s famed Grand Ole Opry, also unveiled a song that he wrote for those impacted titled, “Why Not Me,” The Associated Press reported.
Later on in his appearance, he also performed Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” and received cheers and support from the crowd as he, at moments, became emotional.
— Grand Ole Opry (@opry) October 5, 2017
The tragedy hit particularly close to home for Church, as he performed at the Route 91 Harvest Festival just two days before gunman Stephen Paddock killed 59 attendees there and injured hundreds more.
“Those were my people,” Church said. “Those were my fans.”
The singer also pointed out two empty seats in the arena that he left for Sonny Melton, a man who died while protecting his wife, Heather, during Sunday’s attack. The two reportedly had tickets to Church’s Wednesday night show.
“I didn’t want to be here tonight … and I didn’t want to walk on this stage,” Church said.
But the singer told the crowd that he saw an interview that Heather Melton did with CNN during which she explained that Sonny was a fan of Church and that she and her husband went to Las Vegas to see him play; that revelation moved him.
“That night, something broke in me,” Church said. “The only way I’ve learned to fixed anything that’s broken in me is with music, so I wrote a song.”
Watch the emotional address and his performance of “Why Not Me” at 4:40-mark below: