Granite Falls native Eric Church is up for two Grammy Awards Sunday, for country song and country solo performance for his No. 1 country hit Springsteen. In both, he faces formidable competition from the likes of Carrie Underwood and Alan Jackson.
But given the roll Church has been on for the past year, dont bet against him.
Church blew up into one of country musics biggest crossover stars in 2012, winning fans and acclaim across a wide spectrum. His most recent release, 2011s Chief, won the coveted Album-of-the-Year award from the Country Music Association in November after turning up on year-end best-lists from the alternative-rock magazine Spin and National Public Radio.
As further proof of his status as the country singer its cool for rockers to like, Church also played last summers Orion Music + More Festival in Atlantic City, N.J., alongside Metallica, Best Coast and Suicidal Tendencies. But if you listen to Churchs music, his cross-genre appeal to rock fans isnt hard to fathom.
Chief had no fiddle or steel guitar, which traditionally have been the things you have to have in country music, Church said. So its very much a country record, but its not foreign to people on the rock side, either. I remember starting out in about 2005, when it was really uncool to wear a country artists T-shirt on a college campus, and I am stunned at how much its changed. We play colleges everywhere now, and those are the best, rowdiest crowds. The country format was always geared toward an older soccer-mom demographic, but its become a lot more young males, at least for us.
For all the accolades and awards that came his way last year, Churchs personal highlight of 2012 was a more personal moment. It happened at a show in New Hampshire, where Church was playing an arena where Bruce Springsteen had performed the night before.
Inspired by Churchs No. 1 country single Springsteen a remembrance of a teenage romance, framed by references to Springsteen hits from the old days Springsteen left behind a note he jotted down on the back of a setlist. Hand-delivered to Church by one of Springsteens assistants, the note said that he was a fan and hoped that theyd someday cross paths.
Its scribbly, written in the car on the way to the plane, Church said. But its a long note, takes up the entire back page of this setlist for a show that lasted three hours and 47 minutes. Now that was amazing, because I never thought a guy like that would even know Im alive. But the fact that he did and was a fan of that song and moved to write a note, theres the power of music wrapped up in a little ball. It kind of sums up the year weve had, almost surreal.
Asked if he had the note from Springsteen framed on a wall somewhere, Church laughed.
No, that note is in a safe and thats where its going to stay, he said. I wont even put it in the house. If the house ever burns down, I want to know that its still OK.
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