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2012 Year in Review: Eric Church

This year, the rest of the country music world learned what members of the Church Choir fan club had known since the release of 2006’s Sinners Like Me: Eric Church is an undeniable star.

Arguably no other artist took such leaps and bounds in his or her career in 2012 as the North Carolina native. He scored his first No. 1 hit single with “Drink in My Hand” and immediately followed it up with another, the brilliant days-gone-by anthem “Springsteen,” both of which helped Eric finally find a regular home on country radio. There were even reports that the Boss himself gave his thumbs-up to his namesake song, piquing the curiosity of rock fans and critics alike and giving Eric a crossover stamp of approval. The capper came in November, though, when he won his first-ever Country Music Association award for Album of the Year for Chief, a record that, since its release in 2011, has repainted the hash marks on Nashville’s playing field.

It was on the road, however, that Eric truly broke out. His Blood, Sweat & Beers Tour further established him as a thrilling live act—one capable of headlining his own multi-city trek. After years of grinding it out in rock clubs and theaters, Eric effectively conquered arenas, turning in shows that bordered—like those of Springsteen—on religious experiences. The sound of thousands of fans singing along to “Springsteen” in each and every arena was something to behold, as well as damn hard to top. But Eric will get a chance to do just that in 2013, as a special guest on Kenny Chesney’s annual summer stadium tour. We can already hear the whoa oh ohs.

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