Ashley McBryde recently had the opportunity to perform with her musical idol, Eric Church, at his record-breaking Nashville stop at Nissan Stadium while on his Double Down Tour. More than a chance to watch Church captivate a crowd of more than 56,000 people, McBryde remembered how similar Church's beginning was to hers, walking away inspired by his overwhelming rise to superstar status.
"I've been a big Eric Church fan from the get go," McBryde shared with PopCulture.com and other media. " And to know we've all played a lot of the same venues and everything. But I remember when there was a time when there were 10 people at Joe's Rosemont in Chicago, and I know one of those 10 people. I was like 'Oh that's their claim to fame. I was here that night Eric Church played here the first time.'"
McBryde has been watching Church's career from the beginning, but was still amazed to see how well he captivated so many people gave McBryde even more motivation to keep working hard.
"To know that those 10 people became 56,000 people in a stadium," McBryde reflected. "Every crappy place, every time you play 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 [mad] because he couldn't hear his wife talking over the sound of his hamburger and you singing.
"When the football fans are mad because you're playing and your fans are mad because football is playing, here you are in Nissan Stadium," she continued. So it's sort of like in the Lion King when he's like, 'Everything the light touches.' I walked out on the side of the stage and was like 'Look what Eric did. This is awesome.'"
It was Church who gave McBryde her first opportunity to ever sing in an arena, when he was on tour in 2017 and invited McBryde to sing with him.
"I'd never been in an arena," McBryde recalled to PopCulture.com. "Not from that point of view. I'd never used in-ear monitors. I didn't have my guitar with me, I was going to use one of his. And luckily they let me go out there and get my little baby Bambi legs underneath me, because looking at the scope of how big that room is and that it's all going to be people a––es to elbows. And that is kind of daunting. But Eric and his wonderful wife, they have a way of putting you at ease."
McBryde didn't grow up with a lot of encouragement, at least when it came to her wanting to pursue music as a career. After a teacher told her that he dreams were "stupid" and she needed another plan, the Arkansas native used the discouragement as fuel to prove the teacher, and others, wrong.
"You really owe people like that a thank you," McBryde recently shared with PopCulture.com and other media. "But at the time you are like, 'Wow, what a piece of work you are!' Especially to someone as young as I was.
"When I was in high school, that teacher told me I was stupid – granted it was a math class," she added with a laugh. "But that it wasn't gonna happen for me, no matter what I did. I was from Arkansas and it wasn't going to happen, and that can be really damaging to a kid. And for some reason I was like, 'Okay, well let's make sure that you're wrong.' And people like that, you really owe them a debt of gratitude."
Photo Credit: Getty images / Denise Truscello