aldean vegas shooting wide
Jason Aldean runs off stage as shooting erupts
01:03 - Source: CNN

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Aldean is one of country music's biggest stars

He's also a top earner

CNN  — 

Las Vegas is where Jason Aldean celebrated one of the high points of his hugely successful career.

He won the Academy of Country Music’s entertainer of the year award there in April for the second year in a row.

“You guys don’t know how much I love getting up and doing what I do every day,” he said during his acceptance speech.

Aldean was performing at the Route 91 Harvest music festival near the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas on Sunday night when gunfire broke out.

A video posted on social media showed Aldean and his band fleeing the stage mid-song as bullets flew.

At least 59 people were killed and more than 520 were injured, authorities said.

The country star took to Instagram to say the incident was “beyond horrific.”

“I still dont know what to say but wanted to let everyone know that Me and my Crew are safe,” Aldean wrote. “My Thoughts and prayers go out to everyone involved tonight. It hurts my heart that this would happen to anyone who was just coming out to enjoy what should have been a fun night. #heartbroken #stopthehate.”

Related: Singer Jason Aldean describes ‘horrific’ Las Vegas shooting

That Aldean’s heart would go out to concertgoers is no shock to fans who have followed the Georgia native’s career.

In addition to being one of the biggest stars in country music, he is one of the most beloved.

But his music career almost didn’t happen.

Now 40, Aldean attempted to break into the recording industry straight out of high school, with his father serving as his booking agent.

Aldean moved to Nashville in 1998 after signing a songwriting deal with Warner-Chappell.

Related: Live updates on Las Vegas shooting

He told Rolling Stone last year that he was dropped from his first recording deal with Capitol Records.

“I just sat there, and at some point, being a 22-year-old kid, I was over sitting around and [them] not letting me record anything,” Aldean said.”I started asking a bunch of questions and let them know I wasn’t happy with the way it was going. Then they had a change of the label head and I got dropped.”

Despondent over his sluggish career, Aldean almost abandoned hopes of ever becoming a country music success.

But independent label Broken Bow Records signed him and his debut, self-titled album was released in 2005. It earned Aldean his first no. 1 country hit, “Why,” and he won the ACM top new male vocalist award in 2006.

Aldean has since gone on to release a total of seven albums, sold more than 10 million records and had several major hits, including “Night Train,” “Dirt Road Anthem,” “She’s Country,” “Burning It Down” and “Big Green Tractor,” which crossed over to the pop charts.

His “Old Boots, New Dirt” album became the only platinum-certified country album in 2014. Aldean, Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande were the only artists to ship a million albums that year, according to Rolling Stone.

Forbes lists Aldean seventh among the top-earning country artists.

Aldean is married to former “American Idol” contestant, Brittany Kerr, and the couple are expecting their first child. (Aldean also has two daughters from a previous marriage.)

In 2016, Aldean apologized after photos surfaced the previous year showing him dressed in blackface for Halloween, as rapper Lil Wayne.

He told Billboard that he wore the makeup so he would be unrecognizable in public.

“In this day and age people are so sensitive that no matter what you do, somebody is going to make a big deal out of it,” he said. “Me doing that had zero malicious intent … I get that race is a touchy subject, but not everybody is that way.”

Fans seem to have moved well beyond all of it and continue to embrace the superstar who, with his love of Coca-Cola, country music and the Georgia Bulldogs football team, is not much different from them.

“I’m human. I make mistakes. But I don’t dwell on it,” Aldean told Rolling Stone. “I’ll make a mistake and go, ‘That sucked – I probably shouldn’t do that again,’ and then I don’t do that again. And if you ask me a question, I’m going to answer it. It may not be the most politically correct thing to say, but I’ll tell you what I think.”