NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Country star Eric Church struggled to hold back tears in a tribute to the victims of the mass shooting at a country music festival in Las Vegas and debuted a song he wrote in their honor called “Why Not Me.”

Church was a headliner at the Route 91 Harvest festival two days before a gunman opened fire on the crowd.

At the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee, Church declared: “Those were my people. Those were my fans.”

The singer pointed out two seats left empty in the Opry house for Sonny Melton of Paris, Tennessee, who died, and his wife, Heather, who survived.

– From news service reports