Christopher Alvin "Chris" Stapleton (born April 15, 1978) is an American country and bluegrass musician. He is an established songwriter with six number-one songs including the five-week number-one "Never Wanted Nothing More" recorded by Kenny Chesney, "Love's Gonna Make It Alright" recorded by George Strait, and "Come Back Song" recorded by Darius Rucker. As a songwriter, over 150 of Stapleton's songs have appeared on albums by such artists as Adele, Luke Bryan, Tim McGraw, Brad Paisley and Dierks Bentley. He has co-written with notable artists like Vince Gill, Peter Frampton and Sheryl Crow.
In 2015, Stapleton released his debut album Traveller. It reached number one on the Billboard 200. Stapleton won the 2015 Country Music Association Award for Best Male Vocalist, New Artist of the Year, and Album of the Year for Traveller. He received four Grammy Award nominations for the 2016 ceremony, including Album of the Year, and Country Album of the Year, which he won for his album Traveller.
Stapleton was born in Lexington, Kentucky. His mother worked at the local health department and his father was a coal miner. He comes from a family of coal miners. He has an older brother and younger sister.
Stapleton grew up in the small town of Staffordsville, Kentucky, which is located just outside of Paintsville, located between the city and the Paintsville lake. He graduated from Johnson Central High School and attended Vanderbilt University where he studied engineering, but stopped after a year.
In 2001, Stapleton moved to Nashville, Tennessee to pursue a music career. As a songwriter, he signed with the publishing house Sea Gayle Music, a deal he got shortly after moving to Nashville. Stapleton worked as a songwriter, supplemented by odd jobs, for about 15 years. When he became a solo artist, his new publisher became Warner/Chappell Music.
From 2008 to 2010, Stapleton was the lead singer and guitarist of the bluegrass band The SteelDrivers. In 2009, The SteelDrivers won an International Bluegrass Music Association Award for "Emerging Artist of the Year." In 2010, The SteelDrivers were nominated for three Grammy Awards including Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal for the songs "Blue Side of the Mountain" and "Where Rainbows Never Die", as well as Best Bluegrass Album for Reckless.
Stapleton left The SteelDrivers in April 2010.
The Jompson Brothers
In 2010, Stapleton founded a Southern rock band called The Jompson Brothers. The band was made up of Stapleton on vocals, Greg McKee on guitar, J.T. Cure on bass, Bard McNamee on drums. At one point they opened for the Zac Brown Band.
In 2013, Stapleton signed to Mercury Nashville, a division of Universal Music Group Nashville, as a solo artist. His first single, "What Are You Listening To", was released in October 2013, but did not do well. The single was part of a record that was recorded but never released.
His debut solo album, Traveller, was released on May 5, 2015 to positive reviews. Stapleton co–produced the album with producer Dave Cobb (Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson), and it was recorded in Nashville's famous RCA Studio A. On the album he plays guitar and sings with a live band that is made up of bass player J.T. Cure (from The Jompson Brothers), pedal steel player Robby Turner, drummer Derek Mixon, Mickey Raphael on harmonica, and wife Morgane Stapleton singing harmonies. Stapleton emphasized the importance and magic of the band lineup that came together during the making and promotion of the record, saying the familiarity he had with Cure and Mixon (he has known and played with Cure for over 20 years), plus Cobb's producing which included contributing acoustic guitar in the recording process, added to the richness of making the record.
Stapleton said that the album was inspired by a road trip he took after his father died in 2013. He said he wrote the title track "Traveller" while on a road trip with his wife, driving down Interstate 40 from Phoenix, Arizona, to Nashville via New Mexico. His wife helped to sift through 15 years of songs to pick 9 songs to start recording with.
In 2015, Stapleton won three awards at the 2015 CMA Awards: "Album of the Year", "Male Vocalist of the Year", and "New Artist of the Year". In December 2015, Stapleton received the 2015 CMT Artists of the Year Breakout award during a live performance at the annual CMT Artists of the Year show.
In January 2016, Stapleton performed "Either Way," a song he wrote with Kendall Marvel and Tim James, at the Country Radio Hall of Fame's Country Radio Seminar in Nashville. It was previously recorded by Lee Ann Womack for her 2008 album, Call Me Crazy. Stapleton said he is working on new material for his next record.
Stapleton has contributed to the soundtracks of several feature films, including Cars 2 and Valentine's Day.
Stapleton also cowrote the theme—"All-Nighter Comin'"—to the WSM-AM show, The WSM All Nighter with Marcia Campbell, an American radio show with a large trucker following. He co-wrote the song with Vince Gill and Al Anderson, with Gill featured on vocals on the track.
In 2013, Stapleton and his wife sang the Don Williams song, "Amanda," live at the Grand Ole Opry. They also did an NPR Tiny Desk Concert in November 2015.
At the 2014 CMT Artist of the Year event, Stapleton performed with Lady Antebellum, who played Stapleton's song, "Drink a Beer," which Luke Bryan had recorded, in honor of Bryan, who was unable to attend the ceremony due to a death in his family. Stapleton had sung on the song during Bryan's 2013 CMA Awards performance of the song.
Stapleton has performed on the Late Show with David Letterman, Late Night with Seth Meyers, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, ABC's The View, and CBS This Morning's Saturday Sessions.
At the 2015 CMA Awards, Justin Timberlake joined him on stage for the show to sing his version of the song popularized as a George Jones live show staple, "Tennessee Whiskey" and Timberlake's "Drink You Away."
Stapleton was the musical guest on the Saturday Night Live episode which aired January 16, 2016, alongside host Adam Driver. He performed "Parachute" and "Nobody To Blame" from Traveller.
Stapleton is married to singer-songwriter Morgane Stapleton (née Hayes). She had a recording deal with Arista Nashville. The couple met when they were working at adjacent publishing houses. They have two children and live in Nashville.
Notable songs (as songwriter)
2003: "Higher Than the Wall" recorded by Patty Loveless, written with Mike Henderson
2005: "Your Man" recorded by Josh Turner, written with Chris DuBois and Jace Everett
2006: "Swing" recorded by Trace Adkins, written with Frank Rogers
2007: "Never Wanted Nothing More" recorded by Kenny Chesney, written with Ronnie Bowman
2007: "Whiskey and You" recorded by Tim McGraw
2008: "Another Try" recorded by Josh Turner with Trisha Yearwood, written with Jeremy Spillman
2008: "Either Way" performed by Lee Ann Womack, written with Tim James and Kendall Marvel
2010: "Come Back Song" recorded by Darius Rucker, written with Casey Beathard and Rucker
2010: "Keep On Lovin' You" recorded by Steel Magnolia, written with Trent Willmon
2011: "If It Hadn't Been for Love" recorded by Adele (co-wrote with The SteelDrivers' Mike Henderson)
2011: "Miles to Go" recorded by Alison Krauss and Union Station, written with Barry Bales
2011: "Love's Gonna Make It Alright" recorded by George Strait, written with Al Anderson
2012: "Talk Is Cheap" performed by Alan Jackson, written with Guy Clark and Morgane Hayes
2013: "Drink a Beer" recorded by Luke Bryan, written with Jim Beavers
2015: "Crash and Burn" recorded by Thomas Rhett, written with Jesse Frasure
2006: ASCAP Award – "Your Man" by Chris DuBois, Chris Stapleton
2007: ASCAP Award – "Swing" by Frank Rogers, Chris Stapleton
2008: ASCAP Award, Most Performed Songs – "Never Wanted Nothing More" by Chris Stapleton, Ronnie Bowman
2009: ASCAP Award, Most Performed Songs – "Another You" by Chris Stapleton, Jeremy Spillman
2010: ASCAP Award, Most Performed Songs – "Keep On Lovin' You" by Chris Stapleton, Trent Willmon
2011: ASCAP Award, Most Performed Songs – "Come Back Song" by Darius Rucker, Chris Stapleton; recorded by Darius Rucker
2012: ASCAP Award, Most Performed Songs – "Love's Gonna Make It Alright" by Chris Stapleton, recorded by George Strait