Understanding the Misunderstood McKinley James

All About Eric Church’s Teenage Video Star

When a 14-year-old walked in to the press room at last week’s CMA Awards, my first thought was he’d snuck backstage. And how cool was that?

But then he had kind of a shy swagger about him as he walked up to the microphone, and that’s when I realized he belonged.

“My name is McKinley James. I am 14 years old, and from Webster, New York,” he said. “I’m one of 80,000 that Eric Church gave his new record to today. He decided to treat us as one. As music fans. The record is called Mr. Misunderstood, it’s out now, and yes, I am on the cover.”

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