Perhaps Hootie and the Blowfish can heal America?
The 2017 Country Music Association Awards opened how you might expect an annual summit would for a community that, a little more than a month earlier, was targeted in the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history. On a darkened stage, under one spotlight, Eric Church began singing “Amazing Grace.”
But then came incongruously bright guitar sounds, and into the frame arrived Darius Rucker, the ’90s-era pop-rock band leader now enjoying a second act in country music. “With a little love and some tenderness, we’ll walk upon the water,” he sang, from Hootie and the Blowfish’s joyful 1994 hit “Hold My Hand.” Keith Urban, by his side: “With a little peace and some harmony, we’ll take the world together.” The ensemble expanded to include Lady Antebellum, Reba McEntire, Little Big Town, Brooks and Dunn, Thomas Rhett, Luke Bryan, Tim McGraw, and Faith Hill.
As the warm, darting melody began to work its nostalgic power, one might have thought that the message of the segment was that it’s time to reevaluate the Blowfish’s legacy. The real point, though, was uplift: I’ve got a hand for you.
Co-host Carrie Underwood, in a sparkling crimson ensemble perhaps meant to evoke a risen phoenix, then took the stage with a recitation of recent catastrophic events. “Las Vegas, Charlottesville, New York, Sutherland Springs; historic storms in Texas, Puerto Rico, and Florida,” she said. “The list goes on and on. This has been a year marked by tragedy, impacting countless lives, including so many in our country music family. So tonight, we’re going to do what families do. Come together. Pray together. Cry together. And sing together too.”