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Country Stars React To Las Vegas Mass Shooting

A cowboy hat lays in the street after shots were fired near a country music festival on October 1, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
David Becker
Getty Images
A cowboy hat lays in the street after shots were fired near a country music festival on October 1, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

This post has been updated.

The mass shooting in Las Vegas, which according to the police has killed 58 and wounded 515 people, took place during the last night of the Route 91 Harvest Festival. The festival featured many of country music's current top stars, including singer Jason Aldean (during whose set the shots were fired), Eric Church, Sam Hunt and the duo Big & Rich.

Overnight, Aldean posted an anguished note to Instagram: "Tonight has been beyond horrific," he wrote. "I still dont [sic] know what to say but wanted to let everyone know that Me and my Crew are safe. My Thoughts and prayers go out to everyone involved tonight. It hurts my heart that this would happen to anyone who was just coming out to enjoy what should have been a fun night. #heartbroken #stopthehate"

Within the close-knit country music community, many other artists have reached to social media to express their shock and sorrow.

Singer-songwriter Ryan Hurd is engaged to singer Maren Morris, who performed at the Route 91 Harvest Festival on Saturday evening. On Instagram, Hurd posted a picture of the T-shirt his fiancee brought home for him from this year's event. "We are so terribly heartbroken this morning, for our community," he wrote, "for those who have lost their loved ones in the most unimaginable way, for our neighbors and for our country."

Singer Reba McEntire wrote on Instagram: "My heart goes out to all our friends, Jason Aldean, our music family and fans in Las Vegas. I'm praying for your healing. I pray God puts his arms around you."

On Twitter, singer Blake Shelton was reflective: "My deepest sympathies and prayers to anyone has been affected by the Vegas shooting last night. I don't even know anymore... Why?"

Singer Carrie Underwood wrote on Twitter, "We are praying for the victims and their families. May the Lord bring some comfort to them."

Singer-songwriter Thomas Rhett — who has been featured as part of a National Rifle Association publicity campaign — wrote on Facebook: "I just can't even fathom what happened in Vegas. My heart is broken."

The Los Angeles Times spoke to Dan Ball, a former broadcast journalist who had been backstage at the festival as a guest of the duo Big & Rich. Ball told the newspaper that while he was backstage, he was thrilled by the diversity of the crowd, thinking: "Isn't it great to look out there? We saw white, black, straight, gay, males, females, everyone out there having a good time. Moments later, these cowards commit a heinous act like this. It's unbelievable. Unbelievable."

Updated, 10:00 PM on Oct. 2.Since the shooting, at least one musician who witnessed the violence has said that the event precipitated a change in his stance towards guns. Caleb Keeter, guitarist for the Josh Abbott Band, posted on Twitter that his attitude has changed completely in the past day. He wrote: "I've been a proponent of the 2nd amendment my whole life. Until the events of last night. I cannot express how wrong I was ... We need gun control RIGHT. NOW."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Anastasia Tsioulcas is a reporter on NPR's Arts desk. She is intensely interested in the arts at the intersection of culture, politics, economics and identity, and primarily reports on music. Recently, she has extensively covered gender issues and #MeToo in the music industry, including backstage tumult and alleged secret deals in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against megastar singer Plácido Domingo; gender inequity issues at the Grammy Awards and the myriad accusations of sexual misconduct against singer R. Kelly.