“They asked me to start with a moment of silence,” Kelly Clarkson said in reference to Friday’s school shooting in the cold open of the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday. “But I’m so sick of moments of silence — why don’t we do a moment of change? Why don’t we change what’s happening?”
These are legitimate questions in a year when we’ve lost count of the vast number of school shootings and innocent people killed in the 20 years since Columbine.
“Before we start tonight’s show, there’s something I’d like to say — this is gonna be so hard,” Clarkson, a gun owner, said while tearing up — “about the tragedy Friday at Sante Fe High School. I’m a Texas girl and my home state has had so much heartbreak over this past year. And once again, y’all, we’re grieving for more kids that have died for just no reason at all. And tonight they wanted me to say — that obviously we want to pray for all the victims and their families.
“But they also wanted me to do a moment of silence and I’m so sick of moments of silence! It’s not working! Like, obviously. So why don’t we not do a moment of silence, why don’t we do a moment of action, a moment of change. Why don’t we change what’s happening? Because it’s horrible. And mamas and daddies should be able to send their kids to school, to church, to movie theaters, to clubs — you should be able to life your life without that kind of fear. We need to do better! These people are failing our children, we’re failing our communities we’re failing their families — I have four children, and I can’t imagine getting that phone call or that knock on the door. So instead of a moment of silence, I want to respect them and honor them. So let’s have a moment of action — a moment of change.”
She then introduced the opening performance, Ariana Grande — whose own life was shattered by violence when a terrorist killed 22 people after her concert in Manchester almost exactly a year ago — performing her new single, “No Tears Left to Cry.”
Clarkson then returned, apologized for her tears, and launched into an impressive medley of nominated songs. It was a powerful and vocally and emotionally challenging launch to a show, delivered by an artist who was more than up to the task.