Eric Church gets vaccinated against COVID-19 on the cover of the latest issue of Billboard — and the reigning CMA Entertainer of the Year opens up about getting fans back in arenas, too.
Speaking with the vaunted trade mag for an in-depth feature, covering everything from his upcoming Heart & Soul triple album to his National Anthem gig at the Super Bowl, Church talks openly about how much he wants to get back on the road. He craves the stage and the connection with his fans — perhaps more than any other country artist — but he’s also clear eyed about the challenges ahead.
Right when COVID-19 hit, he says, he began meeting with “epidemiologists, venue managers and industry vets” to work out a realistic expectation for the return of live concerts … and they were not optimistic. Church’s team estimated spring of 2023 at the earliest, but with the lightning-fast development of multiple vaccines, that may not be the case.
“I view it as a godsent miracle,” Church says. “It became very clear to me that the only way to really get back to normal is through vaccinations. You’ve got to get needles in arms.”
After completing his vaccination on the cover, Church goes on to talk about what he hopes for the fall arena tour he’s about to announce — namely, that it’ll go ahead at 100-percent capacity. But that can only happen if enough fans get their shots. Nobody is sure how things will work just yet, but Church’s manager says tickets will likely be sold much closer to the show date than they were before, and fans may be required to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to get in the venue.
This is clearly a problem since not everyone wants to be vaccinated. But with fans on both sides of American politics, Church feels like he’s in a position to help convince them.
“If you believe you shouldn’t, I don’t have a problem with it. I’m a liberty guy, too. I get it,” he says. “But I view this a little differently than most other things. We’ve never encountered this.
“I just want to play shows,” Church goes on later. “Politics’ job is to divide — that’s how you win elections. Those things that unite us are music and sports. The times when, whether you’re a Democrat or Republican or whatever, you throw your arm around the person next to you.”