“On behalf of our country music community, I want to say that tonight’s show is lovingly dedicated to the 12 individuals who we lost far too soon just a week ago tonight at the Borderline in Thousand Oaks, Calif.,” he said. “Tonight, let’s celebrate their lives.”
“Let the music unite us with love in their enduring memory,” he continued. “So please, join me now in a moment of silence.”
Then, Brooks took off his signature cowboy hat to honor the shooting victims.
Check out PEOPLE’s full CMA Awards coverage to get the latest news on country music’s biggest night.
On Nov. 7 a gunman opened fire at Borderline Bar and Grill in Southern California during one of the establishment’s country-themed college nights.
Following the moment of silence, Luke Bryan performed his hit song “What Makes You Country” to open the show.
“All right, CMAs,” he said. “Let’s do what we do and let’s be proud of what makes us country tonight.”
“Our material will be 100 percent fun,” Paisley told PEOPLE at the time. “It’s an escape. I mean, we really want to do a show that feels like you can get away from all the things you want to get away from right now.”
“I think that’s an important thing to do right now,” he added. “The elections over. We’re all now looking, I think, for something where we can watch some music and feel good. That’s what we’re gonna do.”
The 52nd annual CMA Awards air Wednesday, Nov. 14 from Nashville at 8 p.m. EST on ABC.