By Harley Nefe
Country music star Eric Church is pairing up with R&B artist Jazmine Sullivan to perform the national anthem as a duet at Super Bowl LV this Sunday.
Church, 43, is from nearby Granite Falls and began singing when he was a child. At the age of 13, he bought a guitar, taught himself how to play, and began writing songs of his own. Church would play gigs at local restaurants and bars before graduating from South Caldwell High School.
Church then attended Appalachian State University majoring in business and marketing. During his college years, he formed a band titled the Mountain Boys consisting of his college roommate, brother and a fellow guitarist, and the band played around western North Carolina.
After graduating with his degree in 2000, Church moved to Nashville, Tennessee to further pursue his career in country music. He currently still resides in Nashville with his wife Katherine Blasingame, who he married in Blowing Rock in 2008. The couple also has two sons, Boone McCoy Church, 9, and Tennessee Hawkins Church, 5.
Church has made his way up the charts as a seven-time ACM Award winner, four-time CMA Award winner and 10-time Grammy nominee. His hit singles include “Some of It,” “Give Me Back My Hometown,” “Springsteen,” “Drink in My Hand,” and many others
While Church is no stranger to the High Country, his performing partner, Sullivan, was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Sullivan has also made her way up the charts as a Billboard Women in Music Award winner, BET Award winner and 12-time Grammy nominee. Her hit singles include “Need U Bad,” “Bust Your Windows,” “Lions, Tigers & Bears,” and “Lost One” among others.
While Church and Sullivan will be performing as a duet for the national anthem together, another part of the pregame festivities will be a rendition of “America the Beautiful” sung by H.E.R. who is another R&B artist.
This year’s halftime show performance will be done by Canadian artist The Weeknd.
So, while many fans will be tuning into the big game on Feb. 7, High Country residents will see a little local connection take the stage prior to the kick-off at 6:30 p.m in this year’s matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.