When Eric Church performed at the star-studded Life & Songs of Kris Kristofferson concert on Wednesday night (March 16), the crowd hung on every word he said. Church began his moving performance with a powerful story about just how much Kris Kristofferson means to him.

Church took the stage at the Nashville tribute in his signature aviators and leather jacket, and told the crowd an intense story about how much he truly owes to Kristofferson. With his guitar strapped on, Church performed "To Beat the Devil," which is a story in itself. The 1970 song tells the story of a down-and-out musician looking for someone to listen to their music. "And you still can hear me singin' to the people who don't listen / To the things that I am sayin', prayin' someone's gonna hear," the song says. The story is one that Church himself can relate to.

"I wouldn't be here if it weren't for this song and it weren't for Kris Kristofferson," he explains on stage while the silent crowd listens. "I had a rough time in Nashville like a lot of people who get told 'no' a lot."

This is one of Kristofferson's songs that really helped Church through a hard time. He heard the song at a particular moment when he was really struggling, and thinking of giving up and leaving Nashville. "'To Beat the Devil' talked about the very thing I was going through," he shares.

Church made it through the song before getting a standing ovation from the packed Bridgestone Arena in downtown Nashville, but not before admitting how nervous he was performing with Kristofferson mere feet from him. Check out his performance in the video above, read our full recap of the tribute concert, and check out pictures by clicking through the gallery below.

See Pictures From the Kris Kristofferson Tribute Concert