JAM Magazine Main Features

Eric Church - Country Fever 2008 - Jun. 12-15

Another Billboard Debut?

Country singer/songwriter/guitarist Eric Church grew up in Granite Falls, North Carolina, an area known as one of the world’s foremost furniture capitals. He recalls his first paying gig came at age 4, when he stood on a restaurant table and belted out “Elvira” to a waitress and handful of patrons who rewarded him with change. At age thirteen, he bought a guitar and began writing his own songs. By his junior year of high school, he was performing at a local bar. Eventually, Church was adding original songs into the set mix, then producing albums of his own material. For two years, his band played in bars and restaurants throughout North Carolina.

A talented athlete, he played basketball, baseball and golf in high school, but in college, he turned to music. While attending school at Appalachian State, Church decided to form a band with his roommate, brother and another guitarist. They called themselves the Mountain Boys and booked their first show with just 14 songs under their belt. Somehow, they faked their way through a four-hour set and held onto enough of the crowd to help launch them as an act. In a year or so, Eric was throwing original songs into the set mix and not long afterward was selling CDs of his own material. The Mountain Boys were playing four or five nights a week in bars, at frat and sorority parties in Ashville, Hickory, and Boone, riding those early gigs to regional acclaim and then a trip to Nashville.

“I wanted to move to Nashville after my sophomore year in college” recalled Church, “but my dad made me a deal. He said, ‘If you’ll graduate, I’ll pay for your first six months in Nashville.’ Well, I thought that was a pretty good offer. I graduated with a degree in marketing and my father stayed true to his word.”

The financial cushion Church received gave him time to make contacts and take meetings. Six months in, he had to take a day job, but six months after that, he was signed to a publishing deal at Sony Tree. His first hit as a songwriter was Terri Clark’s 2004 single “The World Needs a Drink”. Arthur Buenahora, an executive at Sony Tree, introduced the songwriter to producer Jay Joyce. The two clicked instantly, and began cutting demos. Following a showcase, Church signed to Capitol Records’ Nashville division, with Joyce producing his debut album, Sinners Like Me, which was released on July 18, 2006. The album’s first single, “How ‘Bout You”, reached Top 20 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts, as did the follow-ups “Two Pink Lines” and “Guys Like Me”.

Eric Church and music publisher Katherine Blasingame were married in a private January 2008 ceremony. Recently, Church released a new single, “His Kind of Money (My Kind of Love)” to country radio. It debuted on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart at #55 in late April 2008. It is also the first single from his up-coming album, Carolina, set to be released later this year.

-Record Label: Capitol Nashville