At the beginning of the 2023 CMT Awards on Sunday, April 2, Kelsea Ballerini paid tribute to the victims of the Nashville, Tennessee, Covenant School tragedy.
The 29-year-old singer of “Blindsided” began the program by saying, “On March 27, 2023, three 9-year-olds, Evelyn Dieckhaus, William Kinney, and Hallie Scruggs, together with Dr. Katherine Koonce, Cynthia Peak, and Mike Hill, walked into Covenant School and didn’t walk out.
Ballerini, who cohosted the CMT Music Awards with Kane Brown, continued, “The community of sadness over this and the 130 mass shootings in the U.S. this year alone reaches from coast to coast.” “On August 21, 2008, I witnessed Ryan McDonald, a 15-year-old classmate at Central High School, lose his life to a pistol in our cafeteria, and I wanted to personally get up here and share this experience.
The program tonight is dedicated to the countless families, friends, survivors, witnesses, and emergency personnel whose lives have been permanently altered by gun violence. I fervently hope that the camaraderie and sense of community that music will provide us for the next few hours will soon translate into action like actual action that propels us ahead to work together to bring about change for the safety of our children and loved ones.