Ask Eric Church what he thought of the 50th annual CMA Awards and he’ll say it was the best award show he’s ever been a part of.
“For me, to be a fan of country music and to have a night like tonight when we all come together and we honor what it is, I’m most proud that we did that,” he said backstage at Wednesday’s (Nov. 2) show. “We didn’t just come out here and everybody play their single. We honored where we came from, and I think it’s important for where we’re going.”
He also loved that the CMA honored artists who make music that pushes the genre.
“When it works right is when we’re all pulling for each other,” he said, “and we don’t draw that hard line in the sand of, ‘Well, you’re here and I’m here.’ Music should never really do that, in my opinion. We should never draw lines of what the genre is.
“The most exciting stuff happening right now is what was happening in Americana really bled into country music. I mean, you can start with Chris Stapleton and last year. That was the heart of Americana and it was a big winner. And it’s been a popular winner this past year. I think sometimes you can get boxed in on what you think the rules are. It’s just neat to be with something that you can be proud of the music being made.”
After winning album of the year for Mr. Misunderstood, what made the night even better was getting to hang with some of his heroes.
“I was backstage and I was sitting with Olivia Newton-John and it’s all I can do not to go into ’Summer Lovin,’” he said. “It was more than I can handle just across the board being there with Dolly Parton. I had a great conversation with Vince Gill about cheeseburgers. This is surreal for me.”
His 60-city Holdin’ My Own Tour starts Jan. 13 in Lincoln, Nebraska, and wraps with a two-night stand in Nashville starting May 26.