Route 91 Harvest Festival Artists Stress Importance of Being Vegas Strong For ACM Awards

Country music will make a big return to Las Vegas for the upcoming 2018 ACM Awards, marking the first time thousands of country music fans will gather together in the city since the mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival, which killed 58 people and injured hundreds more.

Now, several country artists who were at the three-day concert event, including Brett Young, Michael Ray, High Valley, Luke Combs, LANCO, Lindsay Ell and more, are speaking out about the need to return to Vegas.

"We're not going to let one person ruin the essence of why we do what we do," Ell says. "We do this because we love country music. And we're going to band together as country music family, because that's what we do in country music, and show everybody how strong we are."

"We're not going to let this evil ruin what we love," Ray notes. "It's crucial that we go back."

"I think the reason it's important to bring it back to Vegas, and for people to come, is because you can't let something like that stop you," adds New Male Vocalist of the Year winner Brett Young.

Aldean, who is nominated for ACM Awards for Male Vocalist of the Year and Entertainer of the Year, was on stage when gunman Stephen Paddock opened fire. The memory still haunts him six months later.

“It’s still tough every day, and you think about it,” Aldean tells CMT. “But you never think that’s something you have to deal with, and when you do, you deal with it the best you can, try and recover and move forward.”

Reba McEntire will return for the 15th time to host the live televised broadcast, and promises to pay tribute to those affected by the tragedy.

"That is a very critical and important thing to do," McEntire explains to Billboard. "We do pay tribute, we pay honor to those who were victims of that shooting and then we remind everybody that we are Americans and we do not let that shut us down. We will go on, we will have a great time that night and we’re going to have fun for them and remember them."

"We’ve got to be strong," adds McEntire. "Americans are strong. We’ve been through a lot of stuff where people have tried to tear us down and make us weaker, but we are not. We will gather up and huddle up. We will hug. We’ll remember, we’ll cry and we’ll move forward, but never will we ever forget what happened."

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The 2018 ACM Awards will air live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Sunday, April 15, at 8:00 PM ET on CBS.

Photo Credit: Instagram/BrettYoungMusic