A teenager named McKinley James is the star of Eric Church’s “Mr. Misunderstood” music video. He’s even on the cover of Church’s new album. The singer hand-picked James because he felt the boy was a living example of everything the title track from the surprise album represents.

James even got to sit in with Church and his band. The 14-year-old and Church first met when the boy’s father helped singer-songwriter J.D. McPerson open for Church earlier this year. “I listen to other things than people do at school,” James says matter-of-factly. Like the boy Church describes in his song, he’s on the edge of his school’s 'in crowd.' His classmates listen to electronic dance music, Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga

“Some of my favorite artists (are) Eddie Angel … J.D. McPherson, Bo Diddley, Freddie King …” James says, naming bluesy-rockers he prefers to hear on vinyl.

Scenes from a schoolhouse are mixed with scenes from a bedroom and the teen working on a car with his father. That’s actually his dad, he says, and he enjoyed working with him. At the end he gets to jam with Church’s band, which he was nervous, but excited to do.

“I had to learn it in two days, which wasn’t that hard, but you had to listen to it over and over again,” he says.

James' other big responsibility was announcing the album to press at the 2015 CMA Awards. In a prepared statement, the boy explained that the album was secretly delivered to 80,000 fans earlier in the day, and was now on sale.

“He decided to treat us as one. As music fans,” James says. Later Church debuted “Mr. Misunderstood” on the CMA Awards stage.

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