Kelly Clarkson made a passionate plea for action regarding gun control in the wake of the Texas school massacre this week, as she opened the 2018 Billboard Music Awards as host.

The 36 year old, who is a Texan native, forewent a moment of silence at the start of Sunday night’s awards to urge viewers to take a “moment of action” in an emotional speech reflecting on the brutal massacre at a school in Santa Fe on Friday, which claimed the lives of 10 children and resulted in 13 others being wounded.

“Tonight, they wanted me to say that obviously we want to pray for all the victims and pray for their families,” mother of four Clarkson said. “But they also wanted me to do a moment of silence. And I’m so sick of moments of silence. It’s not working. Obviously.”

Kelly ClarksonKelly Clarkson made a powerful speech urging action on gun control

Fighting back tears, she argued: “Why don’t we not do a moment of silence? Why don’t we do a moment of action, a moment of change? Why don’t we change what’s happening? Mommas and daddies should be able to send their kids to school, to church, to movie theatres, to clubs, you should be able to live your life without that kind of fear.”

“Once again we are grieving for more kids that have died for just absolutely no reason at all… We need to do better,” the former ‘American Idol’ winner added. “We’re failing our children, we’re failing our communities, we’re failing their families.”

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Clarkson’s impassioned speech kicked off what became a highly eventful evening for Ed Sheeran, as the British pop songwriter took home four trophies: for top artist, top radio songs artist, top song sales artist and top hot 100.

Other winners included Taylor Swift, who won top female artist and top selling album for Reputation, and Camila Cabello, who scooped the Billboard chart achievement award. Khalid won top new artist, and Kendrick Lamar was named top streaming artist. Janet Jackson won the Icon prize.

Ed SheeranEd Sheeran was the big winner on the evening

The evening also included a poignant tribute to Swedish DJ and producer Avicii, who died last month at the age of just 28.

“He was an artist who inspired so many in so many ways and simply put he meant so much to us and so many in the EDM community,” Andrew Taggart of Chainsmokers said about Avicii, while Halsey said: “Everyone who worked with him would agree he was such a joy and it makes this tragedy all the more painful.”

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