The 2017 CMA Awards on Wednesday night began on a somber note, with co-hosts Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood dedicating the show to victims of a string of recent, deadly tragedies: the Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs shootings, the New York City terror attack, the violence in Charlottesville, and the hurricanes that slammed into Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.
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After Eric Church sang "Amazing Grace" and a who's-who of singers joined Darius Rucker for a performance of "Hold My Hand," Underwood acknowledged that 2017 "has been a year marked by tragedy impacting countless lives, including so many in our country music family."
Paisley added that to honor those affected, he and his fellow singers should "play our music loud and proud."
"Our music lifts people up and that's what we're here to do tonight," he said. "This year's show is dedicated to all those we've lost and to all those who are still healing. We love you and we will never forget you."
Later, during the "In Memoriam" segment, portraits of those killed last month at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival in Las Vegas were broadcast as Underwood sang "Softly and Tenderly."
However, Paisley and Underwood's monologue wasn't completely somber. The duo poked fun at their friends in the audience and welcomed to the stage Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, who threw a few jokes their way, too. They also mocked the Country Music Association for trying to limit the political talk at the awards show.
Paisley threw out ideas of a few political songs he was hoping to sing, including "Stand by Your Manafort" and a version of Alan Jackson's song "Chattahoochee" that included the lyric, "Way down yonder on the Scaramucci." However, their biggest musical number was a take on Underwood's song "Before He Cheats," called "Before He Tweets," that seemed aimed at President Donald Trump.