Another year of the Country Music Awards has come and gone and as we relive the moments today, the one that stands out involves the clear winner at the CMAs: Chris Stapleton.
Stapleton has been in Nashville a number of years as a songwriter, penning big hits for such names as Luke Bryan, Kenny Chesney, and George Strait. Now, he is no longer in the shadows because after last night’s CMAs everyone is talking about this bright “new” country music star with the long hair and beard.
Stapleton was born in Kentucky and has put in his time in the music business. Starting in a bluegrass band called The SteelDrivers, he left the band in 2010 and started a Southern rock band called The Jompson Brothers and opened for the Zac Brown Band.
It wasn’t until 2013 that he signed as a solo artist to Mercury records and released a single called “What Are You Listening To” that was part of a record that was never released.
This past May, he released his debut album Traveller and the accolades started rolling in. Especially from his fellow singer/songwriter community, who have been his biggest cheerleaders of all.
“Watching Chris Stapleton have this night is so uplifting,” Bryan said onstage after accepting the night’s biggest award for “Entertainer of the Year”.
Miranda Lambert wore a bedazzled “Chris Stapleton” T-shirt and said during her “Female Vocalist” acceptance speech, “Justin Timberlake and Chris Stapleton, thank you very much. I’m going to go home and practice.”
Which leads us to the “moment” everyone is talking about today.
Stapleton teamed up with pop-singer Justin Timberlake to deliver an awe-inspiring performance of George Jones’ “Tennessee Whiskey” and and bluesy version of Timberlake’s “Drink You Away” (watch below).
As for Stapleton’s reaction to all of the praise: he was very overwhelmed.
“About two years ago, I lost my dad and I made this record thinking about a lot of music he would like. … My mom is here tonight. I want to thank my mom,” said Stapleton. “I’m not going to take it lightly …I got to thank my wife again, she always pushes me to be the best I can be …I gotta thank all my cousins in Kentucky.”
Stapleton said backstage, “It’s surreal, very unbelievable …I feel very loved.” Onstage he said, “I’ve been in the music business for a while, but I’ve never done anything like this. It’s a little overwhelming, but I’m going to do my best to handle it with some degree of grace.”
“Grace” is something Stapleton handled very well.
Watch the show-stopping performance with Stapleton and Timberlake below!