Kelsea Ballerini Opens 2023 CMT Music Awards With Emotional Dedication to Nashville School Shooting Victims
While looking directly into the camera, Ballerini read the names of each of the three children and three adult staff members killed at the Covenant School, a private Christian school in the Green Hills area of Nashville, Tenn.
"Tonight's broadcast is dedicated to the ever-growing list of families, friends, survivors, witnesses and responders, whose lives continue to forever be changed by gun violence," she stated.
Ballerini's voice began to shake as she reflected on her own traumatic experience with gun violence as a teenager.
"I wanted to personally stand up here and share this moment because on August 21, 2008, I watched Ryan McDonald, my 15-year-old classmate at Central High School, lose his life to a gun in our cafeteria," she explained.
"I pray deeply that the closeness and the community we feel through the next few hours of music can soon turn into action, like, real action, for the safety and our kids and our loved ones," Ballerini concluded.
The 2023 CMT Music Awards are airing tonight (April 2) on CBS and Paramount+ live from the Moody Center in Austin, Texas.