- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 12, 2017

In light of recent devastating events that have rocked the nation, producers for an upcoming country-music TV special say they are reworking the program from its originally planned award-show format to one focused on messages of hope and healing.

“Given the devastation of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, the raging California wildfires and the mass shootings in Las Vegas, we feel a commitment to our fans to address all of the tragedies not in one somber and solemn moment or segment, but rather devote the entire evening to uplifting the fans through high-spirited music,” Frank Tanki of the CMT network said, according to The Hollywood Reporter (THR).

The move may be inspired, in part, by the fact that one of the night’s honorees, Jason Aldean, was on stage performing when the first shots rang out in the Oct. 1 shooting spree that claimed 58 lives and wounded 489. 

Mr. Aldean has since appeared on the Oct. 7 edition of “Saturday Night Live,” where instead of the program’s comedic cold-open, he opened the show with brief remarks to the audience and a cover of the late Tom Petty’s “Won’t Back Down.”

CMT is also working with the nonprofit Musicians on Call to organize performances for injured victims of the Las Vegas shooting and the community’s hospital staff and first responders impacted by the emotional trauma of the massacre, THR said.

The “Artists of the Year 2017” special airs live on the CMT network at 8 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, Oct. 18, and will feature Keith Urban, Chris Stapleton, Luke Bryan and Florida Georgia Line in addition to Mr. Aldean.

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