With his ever-present shades and outlaw attitude, Eric Church has succeeded in the country music arena by building a solid career on his own terms. A maverick, who has been known to unexpectedly drop a surprise album, Eric keeps his relationship with his fans at the forefront of his decisions, fighting to keep scalpers from profiting off his concerts at the expense of his true fans being shut out from his sold-out gigs. It’s easy to see why his devoted fan base, the Church Choir, has made him one of contemporary country music’s top-selling acts.
Born Kenneth Eric Church on May 3, 1977, Eric grew up in North Carolina. He bought a guitar and began playing music at 13, and by the time he was a high school senior, he had begun playing gigs around his hometown and developing a local following. After graduating from Appalachian State University with a degree in marketing, Eric made the move to Nashville in 2001 with the original intent of being a songwriter.
“I never really came to town to be an artist,” he once told “Billboard” magazine. “I didn’t know how to do it. I knew I could write songs, so I was just going to stay in town and do that. It was really the songs that led to the artist thing.”
Eric landed a publishing deal and began writing songs for other artists at first, but soon found himself with his own record deal on Capitol Records Nashville. His first single, “How ’Bout You,” was released in January 2006 and peaked at No. 14. His debut album, “Sinners Like Me,” served up two additional singles—“Two Pink Lines” and “Guys Like Me”—that found their way into the top 20.
“Love Your Love the Most” from his sophomore album, “Carolina,” made it to the top 10, but it was his third album, “Chief,” that finally produced his first No. 1 hits when “Drink in My Hand” and “Springsteen” hit the summit. Produced by Jay Joyce, “Chief” was a huge success, selling 145,000 copies in its first week and debuting at No. 1 on both the “Billboard” Top Country Albums chart and the Billboard 200. It also netted Eric the Country Music Association’s album of the year award in 2012 and the same prize from the Academy of Country Music in 2013. He followed “Chief” with “The Outsiders” in 2013, which spawned the No. 1 hits “Give Me Back My Hometown” and “Talladega.”
On November 3, 2015, members of the Church Choir received a surprise when Eric dropped his new album, “Mr. Misunderstood,” and they received copies before anyone else. It became available on iTunes the next day, but in an unusual move, it was released with no promotion and caught fans, the industry, and even some people at Eric’s record label by surprise. The set spawned the No. 1 hit “Record Year” and was named album of the year at the CMA Awards in 2016.
Married to wife Katherine since 2008, Eric has two sons—Boone McCoy and Tennessee Hawkins.