For many country music stars and fans alike, the 2018 ACM Awards, coming up on April 15, will be their first return to Las Vegas, Nev., since the deadly shooting spree at the Route 91 Harvest Festival on Oct. 1, 2017, which claimed 58 lives and injured hundreds more. The awards show has taken place in Las Vegas since 2003, with the exception of the 50th anniversary show, which was celebrated in Texas, and Reba McEntire -- who is returning to host the show for the 18th time -- says that this year, more than ever before, it is important for the show to go on in its traditional location.

“That is a very critical and important thing to do," McEntire said in an interview with Billboard. "We do pay tribute. We pay honor to those who were victims of that shooting, and then we remind everybody that we are Americans and we do not let that shut us down."

McEntire joins many of country's biggest stars in voicing the need to pay tribute and find solidarity in the event. The country icon goes on to speak about the unity that brings strength after such a tragedy: "We’ve got to be strong. Americans are strong. We’ve been through a lot of stuff where people have tried to tear us down and make us weaker, but we are not. We will gather up and huddle up. We will hug. We’ll remember, we’ll cry and we’ll move forward, but never will we ever forget what happened," McEntire says.

The awards show takes place at Las Vegas' MGM Grand Garden Arena and will be broadcast live on CBS beginning at 8PM ET.

The Boot will be staying up late covering the most buzzed-about winners, fashion and moments at the 2018 ACM Awards. Readers can watch along with us by checking back to TheBoot.com for the latest ACMs headlines, liking The Boot on Facebook and following The Boot on Twitter.

Remembering the Route 91 Harvest Festival Shooting Victims