Many artists get started when they’re younger, but Eric Church had a regular gig performing at a local bar in his hometown by the time he was a senior in high school. Despite that, he first went on to study at Appalachian State University before deciding that Nashville was where he ultimately needed to be.
After moving to Music City post-graduation, Church began writing for other artists before catching the eye of Capitol Nashville. His debut album, Sinners Like Me, was released in 2006 and began a steady output with Carolina (2009), Chief (2011), and The Outsiders (2014) and Mr. Misunderstood (2015) following in quick succession. In 2021, he released his seventh studio LP, Heart & Soul, which was a triple album set.
His third album Chief earned Church the ACM Award and CMA Award for Album of the Year in 2011. He also won the ACM Award for Top New Solo Vocalist.
Around that time, Church founded the charitable organization Chief Cares, which helps underprivileged families in Tennessee and Church’s home state of North Carolina.
Famously, Church’s penchant for big, lively performances got him kicked off Rascal Flatts’ tour in 2006. He regularly went over his allotted time and was warned repeatedly to stop. Eventually, Rascall Flatts traded Church for newcomer Taylor Swift. At the time, Church joked that Swift should send him her first gold record for the increased exposure she got. She eventually did, writing him, “Thanks for playing too long and too loud on the Flatts tour. I sincerely appreciate it. Taylor.”
The 55th Annual CMA Awards take place live from Nashville on Nov. 10.