Nashville Tornado: Garth Brooks Asks for Moment of Silence for Victims in Gershwin Prize Speech

On March 4, Garth Brooks was honored with the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song by the Library of Congress at Washington, D.C.'s Constitution Hall, and the country star used his speech to ask for a moment of silence for those who lost their lives in the tornadoes that hit middle Tennessee this week.

"In honor of our sweet, sweet Volunteers from the great state of Tennessee," Brooks said, "I'm going to request, humbly, a moment of silence for those who have fallen and those who are still missing."

On Monday night, a storm in middle Tennessee launched multiple tornadoes that hit areas including East Nashville, Cookeville and Mt. Juliet, killing 24 people, at least five of whom were young children.

The 58-year-old also reflected on Music City while speaking to Billboard ahead of the show, sharing that he sees Nashville as a family.

"Representing Nashville is always a joy and an honor, and it takes on an even greater honor tonight because the rest of Nashville who aren't playing are running chainsaws and opening up their homes to people who don’t have one," he said. "We are right on that edge of becoming one of the major cities, but in my lifetime we will not lose that small-town community, and that's a beautiful thing. We are a family."

The evening featured a tribute concert to Brooks as well as a performance from the honoree himself, who sang his hit "Ain’t Going Down (Til the Sun Comes Up)" to open the show with Keith Urban, later returning to perform a medley of songs honoring songwriters who have inspired him over the years as well a few of his own songs including "The Dance." Tribute performers included Brooks' wife, Trisha Yearwood, Ricky Skaggs, Chris Stapleton, Keb' Mo' and Lee Brice, while Jay Leno shared a speech honoring Brooks.

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Brooks is the youngest recipient of the Gershwin Prize, which recognizes a living musical artist’s lifetime achievement in promoting the genre of song as a vehicle of entertainment, information, inspiration and cultural understanding. The award is given in recognition of legendary songwriting team of George and Ira Gershwin and has previously gone to artists including Sir Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, Willie Nelson, Billy Joel, Paul Simon, Carole King and Emilio and Gloria Estefan.

Photo Credit: Getty / Shannon Finney