What makes country music different than any other genre is its deep and loyal commitment to its fans.
No matter how much one fan loves an artist and the songs they play, that artist will always love that fan more than they will ever know.
The bond is personal.
Melton, a registered nurse from Big Sandy, Tennessee, died shielding his wife Heather Melton from the gunfire that killed 58 fans and injured 489 at the Route 91 Harvest music festival in Last Vegas on Sunday (Oct. 1). He was 29.
The couple had travelled all the way from Tennessee to Las Vegas to see Church’s final, full-length performance of the year on Friday (Sept. 29). They also had tickets to see Church’s Opry performance on Wednesday in Nashville.
Through fighting back tears onstage, Church revealed that he didn’t want to perform on the Wednesday night Opry.
“I didn’t want to play guitar,” Church said. “And I didn’t want to walk on the stage.”
He then pointed to Section E, Row F where two seats were left without occupants.
“That’s their seats,” Church revealed. “And I’ll tell you something, the reason I’m here tonight is because of Heather, Sonny who died and every person that was there.
“I saw that crowd, and I saw them with their hands in the air, and I saw them with boots in the air and what I saw that moment in time was frozen there’s no amount of bullets that can take that away.”
Before his performance, Church described in detail seeing the smiling faces of fans as he made his way through the space between the barricades that split the crowd during “Springsteen.”
“I was so moved mainly because I looked at them and I went, ’This is my crowd,'” he said. “I’ve seen this crowd all year. They’re mine.
“That night something broke in me on Sunday night when that happened and the only way I’ve been able to fix anything is with music.”
A special CMT Hot 20 Countdown, airing Saturday and Sunday (Oct. 7-8) at 9 a.m. ET will have full coverage of the Route 91 Harvest music festival.
CMT’s philanthropic initiative CMT One Country is supporting the Red Cross in the wake of this mass shooting. Our hearts are with everyone affected by the tragedy. If you are trying to locate loved ones, please call the Red Cross hotline: 1-866-535-5654.
If you are in Nevada and would like to donate blood, please go to www.bloodhero.com to find out where to give.