Eric Church wants to get back onstage — and the country star knows a way to make that happen.
The "Drink in My Hand" singer says "you've got to get needles in arms" in order to return to normal. So, to earn trust with people on the fence, Church approached Billboard with the idea of completing his vaccination for its latest cover.
"I view it as a godsent miracle," he says of the COVID-19 vaccines.
Church has had a hard time over the past year not being able to tour and connect with fans. But he stayed busy by meeting with epidemiologists, venue managers and industry experts to figure out how to safely get back on the road. At first, he was told touring wouldn't happen until spring 2023 at the earliest. Now, the vaccination rollout seems to be speeding that up.
"It became very clear to me that the only way to really get back to normal is through vaccinations," Church tells Billboard.
"That has been the hardest thing about COVID: It takes what you do," he adds. "I used the music and the stage to get me through some of those darker things that were more personal... Take that away, and you've got to deal with some of the stuff you maybe haven’t dealt with."
Church, whose fan base includes people across the political spectrum, understands some are wary of COVID-19 vaccines.
"If you believe you shouldn't, I don’t have a problem with it. I'm a liberty guy, too. I get it," he explains. "But I view this a little differently than most other things. We've never encountered this."
Church's Billboard cover is reminiscent of a different epidemic pop culture moment. In 1956, Elvis Presley received the polio vaccine before The Ed Sullivan Show.
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