Thomas Rhett Will Give Nod To His Musical Hero, Eric Church, During 2021 CMA Awards Performance

Just 48 hours before “Country Music’s Biggest Night” and Thomas Rhett is sharing his excitement for his 55th annual CMA Awards performance.

The country superstar and Georgia native shared that he will be performing “Country Again” during the 2021 CMA Awards, and he’s “really excited about it.” Ahead of his performance, Rhett shared that he will perform a stripped down version of the song, similar to what he and his band did during the Center Point Road Tour this summer. 

“So, I’m singing a song called ‘Country Again,’ which was my latest single that was on the radio,” Rhett shared. “And this whole year on tour, this was really the first time we’ve gotten to play it for our people, and we started to kind of strip it down on tour where me and my guitar player would play the first verse and chorus, just us and a guitar and the band would come in big in the beginning of the chorus.”

Rhett added, “So, we’re going to try and replicate what we did live this summer on the CMA Stage, which will be super fun.”

During an interview with CMA, Rhett said, “I can’t wait to point right at Eric Church when I drop his line,” referencing the “Country Again” lyric where the country hitmaker sings “But last night we cracked some cold beers/ And cranked Eric Church to ten / Thought, ‘Man, it feels good to be country again.'” 

While Church has previously given Rhett the stamp of approval on the song via a text message, Rhett is hoping to get a “thumbs up” from his musical hero, Church, during his performance at the coveted awards show. 

In late April 2021, Rhett shared the text conversation that he shared with Church, where Church gave his stamp of approval on Rhett’s “Country Again” single.

“There’s obviously a line, about me and my buddies cranking Eric Church to 10, and he texted me and said ‘Hey man, I just wanted to say “Country Again” is great. Hope you and the family are doing well.’” Rhett previously shared. (via The Country Daily) “And I said ‘Thanks a lot, it means a ton. Hope you don’t mind that I name-dropped you.’ and he said ‘I’m honored.’”

Rhett continued, “And that was full circle to me because he’s one of the biggest reasons, besides Merle Haggard, that I wanted to write songs in the first place. I remember being 16 years old and just being like ‘is there anyone better than Eric Church’ and I was the dude that my favorite songs were the b-sides or the album cuts, so, he’s always been somebody I looked up to as a songwriter. So, to have him kind of sign off on a song was very special to me.”

Rhett previously shared that Church’s music heavily influenced much of his latest project, Country Again: Side A. 

“When Chief came out, I remember my mind being blown at the way he could tell a story and the energy he could have on a record and how he could blend rock & roll and country music so well,” Rhett previously told Rolling Stone of Church’s 2011 third studio album, Chief. “I love that he just does him and there’s no shame in it.”

Additionally, Rhett recently released his latest single “Slow Down Summer.”

Co-written by Rhett alongside his dad Rhett Akins and Sean Douglas, Jesse Frasure and Ashley Gorley, the track finds the hitmaker singing about a summer love that he hopes doesn’t diminish with the season. 

“Falling fast in a one lane town / Tangled up with your lips on mine / Never seen a brighter green than those eyes / And I put my jacket on your shoulder / Wishing the weather wasn’t getting colder,” Rhett sings in the song’s chorus. “Letting you go / Holding onto each other / Closing our eyes sayin’ / Slow down Summer.”

In addition to sharing a brand-new single, he told fans that he is preparing to release two new albums in 2022, including Country Again: Side B as well as a just-announce project called, Where We Started.

“A lot of people have been asking me if ‘Slow Down Summer’ is going to be the first song from Side B,” Rhett said, before sharing, “So I’m going to give you the scoop on that. So last year and this year on the road me and my team have been writing so many songs. What we’ve decided to do is to put out two albums next year, which is going to be awesome.”

“Slow Down Summer” will be the first single from his forthcoming album, Where We Started, which is set for release in early 2022. And Country Again: Side B will be released later next year in Fall 2022.

“I’m so pumped. I cannot wait for y’all to hear these new songs and I cannot wait to play them for you live on the road next year. But until then, y’all get excited. Tell your friends, tell your parents, tell your dogs, tell anybody.”

Earlier this year, Rhett celebrated his 18th No. 1 hit with “Country Again,” the title track of his latest project, Country Again: Side A.

The 55th Annual CMA Awards will also feature performances from Jason Aldean and Carrie Underwood, Jimmie Allen, Gabby Barrett, Dierks Bentley feat. BRELAND and HARDY, Brothers Osborne, Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Luke Combs, Dan + Shay, Mickey Guyton featuring Brittney Spencer and Madeline Edwards, Jennifer Hudson, Miranda Lambert, Old Dominion, Carly Pearce and Ashley McBryde, Thomas Rhett, Blake Shelton, Chris Stapleton, Keith Urban, Chris Young and Kane Brown, and Zac Brown Band.

Additionally, the star-studded awards ceremony will feature dozens of presenters, including Trace Adkins, Ingrid Andress, Kelsea Ballerini, Deana Carter, Lauren Daigle, Russell Dickerson, Faith Fennidy, Florida Georgia Line, Freddie Freeman, Amy Grant, Dulé Hill, Alan Jackson, Elle King, Lady A, Zachary Levi, Scotty McCreery, Hayley Orrantia, Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, Darius Rucker, Susan Sarandon, Saycon Sengbloh, Kurt Warner, Lainey Wilson, and Trisha Yearwood.

Hosted by Luke Bryan, the star-studded show is set to broadcast live from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday, Nov. 10 beginning at 8/7c on ABC.

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