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Eight Years Ago: Eric Church Makes Opry Debut

Eric Church
Paul Hawthorne, Getty Images

Eight years ago today (April 1, 2006), was an unforgettable day for Eric Church. It was on this day that the North Carolina made his debut on the Grand Ole Opry, more than two months before his first album, ‘Sinners Like Me,’ was even released.

Church, who was introduced by Porter Wagoner and Jim Ed Brown, performed the debut single, ‘How ‘Bout You’ from his freshman project, and then segued into the Leadbelly song, ‘Black Betty.’ He also performed the title track of his upcoming album.

“My grandmother has listened to the Opry her whole life, so as a young kid, I can remember listening to it,” he tells GAC. “By the time I became a teenager, you could see the Opry on television and go to the Opry. I was 14 years old when I went to the Opry for the first time. We visited Nashville and went to the Opry, so I knew the tradition of it.”

The 36-year-old returned to the revered stage earlier this year to perform a few songs from his latest album, ‘The Outsiders.’

“I’ve missed being here at the Opry, we ain’t been here in a while. I was gonna play this real introspective songwriter stuff, but then you guys are just rowdy, like you always are,” he shared with the crowd.

Church, accompanied only by his guitar, launched into a few songs from the new album, including his current single, ‘Give Me Back My Hometown’ and ‘Drink In My Hand.’

The singer-songwriter said performing in the hallowed hall was significant for him for another reason besides the history of the venue.

“My son is at his first Opry performance; he’s two years old,” he revealed, before launching into ‘A Man Who Was Gonna Die Young.’

“There was a time in my youth that I never thought I would ever be 36 years old,” he added. “I thought I would punch the clock a long time ago with how I’ve lived.”

Church, who has spent much of the past few years performing all over the world to sold-out crowds, says the Opry will always remain one of his favorite places to sing.

“I’ve played a lot of gigs, but I’ve never felt this anywhere else,” he notes. “In that situation, it’s almost like everybody’s pulling for you. In most other situations, like awards shows, it’s more of a competitive thing. You want to do better than everybody else. But at the Opry, I could tell that everybody wanted me to do good. And I wanted them to do good. It’s the Opry — and it becomes family.”

Next: The Top 10 Eric Church Songs

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