Eric Church Burns Down the 2021 CMA Awards With ‘Heart On Fire’

Now this was one hell of a fiery performance!

Written by Chris Parton
Eric Church Burns Down the 2021 CMA Awards With ‘Heart On Fire’
NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - NOVEMBER 10: Eric Church performs during the 55th annual Country Music Association awards at the Bridgestone Arena on November 10, 2021 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Terry Wyatt/Getty Images)

Eric Church set the 55th Annual CMA Awards ablaze with a fiery performance early in the show, taking the stage for the heartland rocker, “Heart On Fire.”

With his full band packed on a tight stage that almost resembled a barbecue grill, and dressed in a red leather jacket with his signature aviator sunglasses and a cheshire grin, Church roared through his latest single surrounded by flames. The classic rocker was full of romantic nostalgia as he recalled a hot-blooded moment of young love, and ended with Church trading vocals with his longtime backup singer, Joanna Cotten, as the pair burned the proverbial house down.

After taking home the top prize of the night last year — Entertainer of the Year — Eric Church was tied for the most nominations in the field coming into the 2021 show with five. He was once again up for Entertainer of the Year, but also Male Vocalist of the Year, Single of the Year and Song of the Year (for “Hell of a View”) and Album of the Year for Heart. Accepting his ETOY award just after the 2020 presidential election, Church spoke eloquently about the context in which he won.

“If there was ever a year not to win this award,” he said. “This award this year, at least for me, has been about the loss of this year. Loss of life, loss of playing shows, loss of freedom, loss of kids being in school.

“You know what the win is? The win is we were all here tonight together as country music in person, live, not on zoom,” he went on. “It’s going to be music that brings us out of this. That is the one thing that is going to save the entire world. Politicians are about division, music is about unity. And I promise you, it’s going to take everyone in this room to unite.”

“Heart On Fire” was part of Eric Church’s ambitious Heart & Soul album project, which found him writing and recording a new song each day for about a month in North Carolina before the pandemic began.

Back in their usual format after the pandemic-impacted 2020 show, the 55th Annual CMA Awards aired live from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on November 10. The night featured dozens of performances and awards presentation for a glitzy ceremony dubbed “Country’s Biggest Night,” and was hosted by superstar Luke Bryan for the first time. You can check out Sounds Like Nashville’s full coverage here.