- The Washington Times - Friday, October 6, 2017

Singer Eric Church told a Nashville audience Thursday night that his ability to debut a new song just days after witnessing the Las Vegas massacre was only made possible by survivor Heather Melton.

A CNN interview after 58 people died and 489 others were injured during gunman Stephen Paddock’s massacre at the Route 91 Harvest Festival recently made its way to one of country music’s biggest stars. The result was a heartfelt tribute at the Grand Ole Opry by Mr. Church and a song titled “Why Not Me,” which generated over 2 million YouTube views in less than 48 hours.

“I didn’t want to be here tonight, and I didn’t want to play guitar, and I didn’t want to walk on this stage,” Mr. Church said. “But last night — I want to try and get this out — last night, somebody sent me a video of a lady named Heather Melton. She was talking to Anderson Cooper on CNN, and she had on our Church Choir tour shirt. [Anderson Cooper] said, ‘What brought you to Vegas?” and she goes, ‘We went there to see Eric Church.’ He was Sonny’s … her husband who died … guy. We went there to see his guy. And then she said, ‘We have tickets for the Grand Ole Opry tomorrow night.’”

The singer said that despite Mrs. Melton’s inability to make the show, her words inspired him to pen the song and take the stage.

“The reason I’m here tonight is because of Heather Melton, her husband Sonny who died, and every person that was there,” Mr. Church said. “I saw that crowd. I saw them with their hands in the air. I saw them with boots in the air, and what I saw, that moment in time that was frozen, there’s no amount of bullets that can take [that] away. None.”

Mr. Church then began his song, which reasserts the singer’s faith in God while asking “why the wicked gets to prey on the best of us.”

“That night, something broke in me when that happened,” the singer told his audience. “And the only way I’ve ever fixed anything that’s been broken in me is with music.”

Authorities are still trying to determine the motives behind Paddock’s rampage, which he conducted from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.

The gunman killed himself as law enforcement closed in on his location.

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