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Leading up to the ceremony, Underwood was also announced as one of the scheduled performers. No one knew what to expect from her or her performance, since she had been off the touring scene that year.
In an interview a few days before the awards aired, Paisley shared that he felt Underwood’s performance would be a highlight of the show. No one knew what that meant until the awards aired, when it was revealed that Underwood would be singing a memorial performance.
Underwood’s voice rang throughout Bridgestone Arena as she sang the opening lines of the beloved hymn, “Softly and Tenderly.”
During the performance, images of artists, musicians, and musical figures that passed away that year flashed on a screen behind Underwood.
In the middle of the performance, a few clips played of some of the artists the country music community lost in 2017. These clips came from former CMA Awards ceremonies, and featured Don Williams, Glen Campbell, and Troy Gentry.
At the end of the performance, Underwood found herself struggling to sing as images of the 60 people who were killed during the mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas appeared on the screen. The shooting occurred on October 1, 2017, just a month before that year’s CMA Awards.
We’re sure there wasn’t a dry eye in the room at that moment…
Underwood was in tears by the time she finished the song. Watch the performance below.
This was such a touching tribute to the 60 people who lost their lives on that tragic October day.