Two days after the deadly Santa Fe High School shooting in Galveston County, TX, which left at least 10 students dead, and 13 more injured, host Kelly Clarkson opened the Billboard Music Awards with a powerful and emotional speech against gun violence, calling out lawmakers for failing to enact meaningful legislation.
"Before we start tonight, there's something I'd like to — this is going to be so hard," the singer said. "There's something I'd like to say about the tragedy Friday at the Santa 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 who were killed for absolutely no reason at all."
But rather than holding a moment of silence for the victims of the shooting — the 22nd school shooting of 2018 in the United States — Clarkson called on everyone in attendance at the show (and watching at home) to honour them with their voices and their songs.
"Tonight, they wanted me to say that obviously we want to pray for all the victims, we want to pray for their families, but they also wanted me to do a moment of silence, and I'm so sick of moments of silence. They're not working!" the singer said, her voice breaking from visible emotion. "So why don't we not do a moment of silence, why don't we do a moment of action? Why don't we change what's happening? Because it's horrible. And mums and dads should be able to send their kids to school, to church, to the cinema. You should be able to live your life without that kind of fear"
"We need to do better. We need to do better as a people. We're failing our children, we're failing our communities. I can't imagine. 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 honour them with tonight, y'all. In your community, where you live, your friends, everybody, let's have a moment of action. Let's have a moment of change.
Watch the powerful moment in full below:
Clarkson then introduced a performance by Ariana Grande, who sang her latest single "No Tears Left To Cry." When she returned, the BBMAs host announced: “I’m going to try not to cry anymore. I hate when you have to talk about something, but you have to talk about it or change is never going to happen.”
Clarkson's speech marks a departure from the way celebrities and entertainment figures have traditionally marked tragedies like this one. On Friday, Netflix has canceled the season 2 premiere of 13 Reasons Why. In a statement, a representative for the streaming service explained that the decision was made out of respect for the victims. "Our hearts are with the victims of the Santa Fe High School shooting, and with all victims of gun violence," stated the representative. "In light of today's tragedy, we are cancelling the 13 Reasons Why [season 2] premiere event tonight."
There's no easy way to deal with an event like the Sante Fe High School shooting, but Clarkson's call for a moment of action is certainly refreshing.
Hot of the heels of her rousing opening speech, the "Stronger" singer followed up her rousing speech with a killer musical medley that had even Taylor Swift singing along.
And here's BTS joining in:
Among the songs performed in the medley were Swift's “Look What You Made Me Do," Ed Sheeran's "Shape Of You," and Shawn Mendes' "There's Nothing Holding Me Back."