Chris Stapleton took home three big trophies from the Country Music Association (CMA) Awards: Album of the Year, New Artist of the Year, and Male Vocalist. The ceremony was held last November 4, 2015. He even beat some new stars like Kelsea Ballerini, Sam Hunt, and Maddie and Tae in the New Artist of the Year category, a victory critics find the most impressive.
Because Chris is a newbie in the industry, nothing much had been reported about him. So here are 10 things you have to know about this 37-year-old songwriter and singer.
1. Kentucky is his home state
Stapleton shouted out the name of his home state, Kentucky, during his Male Vocalist of the Year speech. Kentucky has been known for producing the best country singers in town, which include Ricky Skaggs, Patty Loveless, Billy Ray Cyrus, Dwight Yoakam, Bill Monroe, Sturgill Simpson, and Angaleena Presley. Kentucky is the home state of famous songwriters too, such as Stapleton’s “Whiskey and You” co-writer, Lee Thomas Miller, and Ashley Gorley.
2. He’s a liberal writer
If you take a look at some of the nominees and winners at CMA, you’ll find a connection between them, and that connection has a name—Chris Stapleton. The country singer has been writing songs in Nashville for a decade now, and some Nashville artists sang his songs, released them, and made them popular. His co-nominees in the Male Vocalist of the Year category—Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton, and Dierks Bentley—have sung some of the songs he wrote. Little Big Town and Miranda Lambert, who both took home awards, sang Stapleton’s songs too. Even three of the performers that Wednesday night—Brad Paisley, Jason Aldean, and Brooks & Dunn—gave some of Stapleton’s creations a break.
3. Most of his songs topped country music charts
Darius Rucker‘s “Come Back Song,” Josh Turner‘s “Your Man,” Luke Bryan’s “Drink a Beer,” and Kenny Chesney‘s “Never Wanted Nothing More,” all of which are Stapleton’s compositions, have landed No. 1 on Billboard’s Country Airplay and Country Songs charts. The Thomas Rhett song “Crash and Burn,” which was released April this year, was also written by Stapleton, alongside Jesse Frasure. It earned the top spot in the Country Airplay chart at the end of September.
4. Stapleton’s solo debut is Traveller
Stapleton is only 37, but he’s already widely recognized. Proof is the large number of song placements in various movies and TV shows. Traveller, though, is a special release because it was the first project credited to him alone.
5. But Traveller is not his first work as a front man
Stapleton is actually a member of SteelDrivers, and as the group’s front man, had already penned a number of songs. These songs served as his template for the tracks he included in Traveller. When Stapleton left SteelDrivers, the group didn’t disband. They continued performing and even recently released the album The Muscle Shoals Recordings.
6. Whiskey is on his bucket list
Stapleton loves whiskey. He loves it so much that he makes it as the central motif of his songs.
7. He has written about trucks as well
It’s not just whiskey, Stapleton thinks of trucks too when he writes songs. Listeners often make fun of how country musicians incorporate trucks in their songs, but these tracks are actually great. Stapleton wrote one—”All-Nighter Comin.” He wrote it with Vince Gill and All Anderson. It’s used for the weekday program The All-Nighter with Marcia Campbell.
8. He actively protects country music
Every time a singer wins a major award, he/she is sure to take center stage to give the typical long speech of thanks, but Stapleton obviously doesn’t like doing that. However, he’s always willing to stand up to defend the genre of music he loves. He even told FADER, “As long as people want to buy [country] music and go see live shows, as long as they’re doing that for somebody, it’s good for everybody.”
9. He has been gentle with Tom Petty.
In 2013, Tom Petty made headlines for criticizing mainstream country music. It reached Stapleton, so he wrote a letter to Petty, which read, “I, for one, would like to see you put your money where your mouth is in a tangible way . . . I’m extending an open invitation to you to write songs with me, produce recordings on or with me, or otherwise participate in whatever way you see fit in my little corner of music.”
10. Pop stars are comfortable with him as a country singer.
Chris Stapleton has a lot of celebrity fans actually. Pop singer Justin Timberlake, who appeared in the CMA Awards but was late, tweeted an appreciation post for Stapleton, saying, “REAL music fans already know. So, mainstream: @ChrisStapleton. Remember that name. . .” Adele has expresed her love for Stapleton to, saying she’s been a fan since the “If It Hadn’t Been for Love” was recorded and included in her album 21. Joss Stone, whose album LP1 had a song written by Stapleton, also showed admiration for the songwriter.