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Raise that drink in your hand, Church Choir, because the Chief's working on a treasure trove of new music. 

For his next project, performing one of the new songs. The to-be-announced music would follow up "Desperate Man," a 2018 record produced by longtime Church collaborator Jay Joyce. 

In a conversation billed "Chasing Creativity," Church sat down with moderator Lon Helton, publisher and CEO of Country Aircheck, for a sprawling conversation about the former's decade-plus in country music. 

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The interview touched on cornerstone single "Smoke A Little Smoke," a 2009 song that helped turn Church from a rock club regular into an arena staple ("They'd riot if we didn't play that" Church said of the song's impact); his unwillingness to compromise on music ("I'm not going to be somebody else to have commercial success short term," he said); and why albums still matter ("It's like a book ... songs are like chapters"). 

Church noted that chart-topping success comes occasionally — he's scored eight No. 1 tracks on Billboard's Country Airplay chart — but some of the most time-tested songs in his catalog didn't make an airplay splash. 

"You have these songs, they made an impact, even though they didn't spend 30 weeks on the chart," Church said, adding: "If you walk up to somebody who's our fan and say, 'Where did 'Desperate Man' go on the chart?' They're all gonna say 'No. 1. Absolutely. No. 1.' (Note: the song peaked at No. 8 on Country Airplay.)

"The fan doesn't know. They have no idea. ... (the song's) got to be memorable. It's got to be something different." 

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Helton asked Church about "how painful" it must be to have not yet received a CMA Entertainer of the Year trophy. Church earned nominations in 2015, 2017 and 2019. 

"It was probably painful for the people around me," Church said, earning applause. "To me, it's a trophy. That's what it is. But not to the people who push those cards. Not to those fans who came. 

"The people that bled and did that. That's who I hurt for. ... other than that, though, it's just a trophy. I'm still gonna go play the same show." 

CRS continues Friday at the Omni Hotel in Nashville.  

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