Ashley McBryde has always been a huge fan of country superstar Eric Church, but these days, he's more than an idol: He's a mutual fan and collaborator, too.

McBryde and Church have teamed up for a few different live performances; most recently, the two performed "The Snake," which is featured on Church's 2018 album Desperate Man, at the 2019 ACM Awards. Backstage at CMA Fest 2019, McBryde said that, even back when she was simply a fan, she's been rooting for Church from the beginning: "I've been a big Eric Church fan from the get-go," she recalled.

"There was a time, I remember, when there were, like, 10 people at Joe's Bar in Chicago ...," McBryde continued (according to a statement from Church, that fateful early show took place in 2005). "And I know one of those people. And that's their claim to fame: 'Oh, I was here the night that Eric Church played for the first time.'"

Looking back, it's hard for McBryde not to marvel at the Chief's growth in the years since then. In 2019, Church set an attendance record at Nashville's Nissan Stadium, packing the venue with 56,521 for a May 25 stop on his Double Down Tour. Naturally, one of those fans was McBryde:

"To know that those 10 people became 56,000 people in a stadium ... Every crap place, every time you played in front of a projector and they didn't turn the game off, every time they wouldn't turn the volume down, every time a guy got pissed off because he couldn't hear his wife talking over the sound of you singing, every time the football fans got mad because you were playing and your fans got mad because football was playing -- here you are at Nissan Stadium," McBryde reflects.

"It's sort of like in The Lion King, when they're like, 'Everything the light touches ...'" she adds. "I walked out of the side of the stage, and it was like, 'Look what Eric did. This is awesome.'"

McBryde, who released her major-label debut album, Girl Going Nowhere, in 2019, has a number of shows on her calendar throughout the rest of the summer. This fall, she'll be part of Miranda Lambert's Roadside Bars and Pink Guitars Tour.

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