Eric Church, 39, has certainly evolved since his days as a student at Appalachian State University. In this throwback clip, the outlaw country music star belts out Garth Brooks’ “We Shall Be Free” for an audition. Yes, that’s the “Mr. Misunderstood” singer-songwriter sporting a striped long sleeve shirt, light wash jeans, brown shoes, and a clean-cut exterior.
It’s really odd to see the Chief without his scruff, baseball cap, and signature sunglasses. He also has quite the theatrical voice— who knew. View the entertaining throwback video below!
In 2007, his alma mater profiled the rising star and detailed his musical beginnings at the university, “His experience at Appalachian not only gave him a chance to take plenty of music classes – among them, theory, music industry studies and engineering – he also was exposed to music beyond the country genre. “Everything from Phish to Led Zeppelin,” he says.
Church’s years at Appalachian helped launch his performance career. “That’s where I learned how to work a crowd,” he says, as in his own lyric, “Give me a crowd that’s redneck and loud and we’ll raise the roof.”