Kelsea Ballerini Opens CMT Awards with Tribute to Nashville Shooting Victims
Kelsea Ballerini HONORS NASHVILLE VICTIMS AT CMTs ... I Saw My Classmate Die in School Shooting Too
4/3/2023 7:09 AM PT
Kelsea Ballerini opened up the CMT Music Awards with a powerful speech ... a very personal tribute to the victims of the Nashville Covenant School shooting, and one that brought her to tears.
The country music star got emotional Sunday night as she opened the award show in Austin, Texas ... calling out the names of the 6 victims of Audrey Hale's rampage.
Kelsea started to break down when she added, "The community of sorrow over this and the 130 mass shootings in the U.S. this year alone stretches from coast to coast."
And, then she shared her own up close experience with gun violence in schools -- Kelsea recalled, "I wanted to personally stand up here and share this moment because on Aug. 21, 2008, I watched Ryan McDonald, my 15-year-old classmate at Central High School, lose his life to a gun in our cafeteria."
McDonald was fatally shot by a classmate at Kelsea's high school in Knoxville, TN -- it happened in a crowded cafeteria, in full view of several other students ... including Kelsea.
She hosted the CMTs with Kane Brown, and went on to dedicate the broadcast to the growing list of families, friends, survivors, witnesses and responders whose lives have been changed by such violence.
Kelsea closed her touching speech by praying for "real action that moves us forward together to create change for the safety of our kids and our loved ones."