'No Words': Sugarland Breaks Silence on Stage Collapse

PHOTO: Sugarlands Jennifer Nettles talks for the first time about the stage collapse at the bands concert that killed seven fans.
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Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles says she wept when she learned that some fans were killed during a stage collapse at the band's concert at the Indiana State Fair.

"I mean, there are no, there are no words for that kind of, of tragedy," Nettles told Robin Roberts, speaking out about the event for the first time. "And for the power of nature."

"I was scared," bandmate Kristian Bush said. "I thought maybe a bomb went off. We were underground, we didn't know."

Moments before Sugarland -- the powerhouse country duo comprised of Nettles and Bush -- was to step on stage Aug. 13, high winds took down the rigging of their production. Forty-five people were injured and seven people died.

"When you are faced with your own mortality in that way, that brings some perspective too," Nettles said.

The band was waiting to go on, protected underneath the stage.

"Everything suddenly looked dark, and then wind, and then a crashing sound, a horrible metal torquing, twisting sound," Nettles recalled. "And then the ceiling of the dressing room torqued and shuddered, and everyone went to the wall, because we didn't know what was happening, because we couldn't see, we're underneath. And then, we all just all stood there, waiting to know what was happening. ... Obviously, once we realized what happened, everybody's on their radios, and it's madness."

Nettles said she didn't feel a sense of responsibility for what happened, but "a sense of connection" with the fans.

"We are forever connected to those people, because of the evening that we shared, and the moment that we shared, and the tragedy that we shared," she said.

Sugarland has developed a fiercely loyal fan base that has made their concerts some of the most popular in country music. On their "Incredible Machine" tour, every venue is filled with fans holding up the same sign: Love.

But is Nettles considering branching out from Sugarland and going solo?

"There's so many things that I want to do, and a solo record, yes, I would love it if I did it," she said. "I don't have a recording date on the books, as of yet but, yeah, it's absolutely one thing I would love to do one day."

She said pursuing solo careers is something "that'll be unfolding for both of us." For now, however, their focus is on their fans and their community.

Two months after the tragedy, Nettles and Bush returned to Indiana to see the aftermath of the collapse, where their set and instruments are still buried under the debris.

"Your brain didn't know what to do with it," Bush said, surveying the scene. "There was just dust everywhere. Everything shook. It was like an earthquake."

Sugarland gave a free concert for all the fans who were there that day, with every seat paid for by the stadium, the state and the band. Concertgoers were asked to donate to a memorial fund for the victims of the tragedy.

"It's a game changer," Nettles said. "I think any sort of crisis can test our faith, and push us to our limits. There will always be a before that happened, and an after that happened."

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