The event is usually a joyous celebration of selected artists’ accomplishments over the following year. After the Route 91 Harvest Festival, devastating hurricanes and white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, organizers opted to change the format. Instead of long-winded speeches, artists performed special tributes and honored the victims of the recent tragedies.
One of the most powerful moments came at the very end of the night. There, Aldean and friends honored Las Vegas shooting victims and the late Tom Petty with “I Won’t Back Down.” You can see their full performance in the video above.
Aldean first performed the song a week and a half earlier during a surprise appearance on Saturday Night Live. That defiant performance, along with his powerful speech, showed that Aldean has no plans of stopping his music career. And with the country music community still extremely rattled, the song serves as a reminder that we’ll all get through these tough times in the only way possible –together.