Chris Stapleton Won Almost Every 2024 ACM Award He Was Nominated For

chris stapleton talks into a microphone on a stand as he stands on a stage, he looks to the left and wears a brown cowboy hat and black outfit
Chris StapletonGetty Images
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1978-present

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Who Is Chris Stapleton?

Chris Stapleton began his career in Nashville, Tennessee, as a sought-after songwriter who furnished songs for numerous famous country artists. Easy to spot due to his signature long hair and striking beard, he became a major star in the fall of 2015 when his debut solo album, Traveller, practically swept the Country Music Association Awards. Stapleton followed up the multiplatinum album by drawing on his own vast repertoire of songs. In 2017, he released two more albums: the award-winning From a Room: Volume 1 and From a Room: Volume 2. In total, Stapleton has won 10 Grammys and is a seven-time CMA Male Vocalist of the Year—more than any artist in history.

Quick Facts

FULL NAME: Christopher Alvin Stapleton
BORN: April 15, 1978
BIRTHPLACE: Lexington, Kentucky
SPOUSE: Morgane Stapleton (2007-present)
CHILDREN: Waylon, Ada, Macon, Samuel, and 1 son (name unknown)
ASTROLOGICAL SIGN: Aries

Where Is Chris Stapleton From?

Christopher Alvin Stapleton was born on April 15, 1978, in Lexington, Kentucky, to Carol Stapleton, a local health department worker, and Herbert Stapleton Jr., a coal miner.

Along with his older brother, Herbert, and younger sister, Melanie, Chris grew up outside of Lexington where his parents were active listeners of country artists from the region.“It’s just part of the fabric of being from Kentucky,” Stapleton said in a 2015 with the Lexington Herald Leader. “Ricky Skaggs and Keith Whitley, Dwight Yoakam and Patty Loveless, the list goes on and on. Those names are just part of life in Kentucky. You can’t help but be aware of them and be influenced by them. It’s almost genetic in the sense that you don’t have an existence that doesn’t involve their music.”

Popular and clean-cut in his teenage years, Stapleton played several team sports at Johnson Central High School and graduated as class valedictorian in 1996. Twenty years later, he returned to his high school to play a free concert and dedicate a new space, built by student carpenters, where students can perform on school grounds.

Continuing his education after high school, Stapleton studied engineering at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, but soon immersed himself in the local music scene and dropped out after one year.

Songwriting Career

After meeting some local songwriters in his hometown, Stapleton discovered that songwriting was a viable profession. In a 2016 interview with CBS News, he said: “I always thought that George Strait was singing a song, he made it up, and that was the end of it. But the instant I found out that that could be a job, I thought, ‘That’s the job for me.’”

In 2001, Stapleton landed a publishing deal just four days after moving to Nashville. For the next decade or so, he scored an impressive number of hits with famous country musicians, including Strait (“Love’s Gonna Make It Alright”), Kenny Chesney (“Never Wanted Nothing More”), Luke Bryan (“Drink a Beer”), Thomas Rhett (“Crash and Burn”), Darius Rucker (“Come Back Song”), and Josh Turner (“Your Man”). Lee Ann Womack, Brad Paisley, Dierks Bentley, and Tim McGraw have also all recorded his songs.

Additionally in 2011, Adele recorded a cover of “If It Hadn’t Been for Love” as a bonus track for her smash album 21. Stapleton co-wrote the song for his band The Steeldrivers.

Band

While consistently working as a songwriter from 2001 through 2015, Stapleton began making music with a band. The SteelDrivers formed when he and fellow songwriter Mike Henderson decided to start performing songs they had written but weren’t being recorded by anyone else. The progressive bluegrass group also included fiddle player Tammy Rogers, bassist Mike Fleming, and banjo player Richard Bailey. Stapleton was the lead singer and guitarist, as Henderson rounded out their sound with a mandolin.

The SteelDrivers released their self-titled debut album in 2008. Its lead track, “Blue Side of the Mountain,” earned Stapleton and Henderson a Grammy nomination. The band followed up with Reckless (2010), which earned two more Grammy nominations including Best Bluegrass Album.

Despite their success together, Stapleton left the band in 2010. The SteelDrivers have continued making music with a couple lineup changes over the years.

Stapleton then formed a Southern rock band, The Jompson Brothers, once again serving as the lead singer and playing guitar. His bandmates included guitarist Greg McKee, bassist J.T. Cure, and drummer Bard McNamee. The band made one album together, 2010’s The Jompson Brothers, and toured for a few years. They briefly were an opening act for Zac Brown Band before Stapleton struck out on his own.

Solo Music: Hit Songs and Awards

In 2013, Stapleton signed with Mercury Nashville. His single “What Are You Listening To?” released that October but didn’t go anywhere, so its accompanying album was scrapped.

He then hooked up with co-producer Dave Cobb to record Traveller, his solo debut. His wife, Morgane, handpicked the majority of the album’s songs from Stapleton’s library of more than a 1,000 published tunes. Traveller appeared in May 2015 to strong reviews but didn’t receive wide airplay until after that November’s Country Music Association Awards. At the ceremony, Stapleton and Justin Timberlake gave a show-stealing duet of the George Jones classic “Tennessee Whiskey” and the pop star’s song “Drink You Away” that caught the attention of new fans. Moreover, Traveller won Album of the Year, as Stapleton was named CMA New Artist of the Year and Male Vocalist of the Year. With his trademark long hair and bushy beard, Stapleton was officially and unmistakably on the map.

justin timberlake and chris stapleton stand and face each other on a stage, they sing toward a microphone on a stand and each play guitar
Justin Timberlake and Chris Stapleton appeared together at the 2015 CMA Awards in a performance that helped launch Stapleton to fame.Getty Images

Traveller subsequently rocketed to the top of the Billboard 200 and the country albums chart, as Stapleton’s solo version of “Tennessee Whiskey,” which he recorded for the album, hit No. 1 on the Hot Country Songs. Success continued as “Nobody to Blame” became his first country radio hit, and “Parachute” charted even higher later in 2016. Also that year, the Grammy committee took notice, granting the singer-songwriter four nominations and then two awards for Traveller and its title track: Best Country Album and Best Country Solo Performance.

Even before all the fanfare, Stapleton was back at work on his second album, another production with Cobb. From a Room: Volume 1 came out in May 2017 and won Album of the Year at both that year’s CMAs and the 2018 Academy of Country Music Awards. By that time, From a Room: Volume 2 had also released, arriving in November 2017, and his sophomore album had earned Stapleton three more Grammys: Best Country Album, Best Country Song for “Broken Halos,” and Best Country Solo Performance for “Either Way.” Also at the 2018 Grammys, he performed “Wildflowers” with Emmylou Harris to honor the late Tom Petty.

Stapleton took his foot slightly off the gas, not releasing much new music for a span of three years. Still, his country stardom was further secured in 2019 when he became the first person to win the ACM Award for Artist-Songwriter of the Decade in recognition of his work in the previous 10 years.

Starting Over (2020) was another hit, delivering its title track and later “You Should Probably Leave” to the top of the Hot Country Songs chart. Accolades poured in at the CMAs and ACM Awards in 2021, then the 2022 Grammy Awards. Starting Over was named Best Country Album, meanwhile Best Country Song went to “Cold,” and “You Should Probably Leave” earned Stapleton the trophy for Best Solo Country Performance.

In November 2022, Stapleton became the first artist to win Male Vocalist of the Year six times at the CMA Awards, passing George Strait, Vince Gill, and Blake Shelton. Another win in 2023 extended his record to seven wins in the category.

In September 2023, ESPN debuted a new version of the hit Phil Collins song “In the Air Tonight” featuring Stapleton and Snoop Dogg as the theme song for its Monday Night Football broadcasts. It was a teaser to the country singer’s newest original music that arrived two months later.

Stapleton’s newest album is Higher (2023). “It Takes a Woman” and “What Am I Gonna Do” were the first songs to find traction, but both were blown away by “White Horse.” The song peaked at No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100—a personal best for Stapleton’s solo work—and won two Grammy Awards, Best Country Solo Performance and Best Country Song, in February 2024. The additional gramophones made Stapleton a 10-time Grammy winner.

Elton John Tribute

Elton John personally called Stapleton and asked him to record “I Want Love” for a 2018 record, Restoration: Reimagining the Songs of Elton John and Bernie Taupin. The 13-song collection also features Little Big Town, Miranda Lambert, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Dierks Bentley, Vince Gill, and Don Henley.

Wife and Kids

chris stapleton plays guitar and faces away from the camera, morgane stapleton faces him, they stand on a stage each in front of microphone stands
Chris and Morgane Stapleton, seen here at a 2022 performance, have been married since 2007.Getty Images

Stapleton met Morgane Hayes in 2003 when they were both working as songwriters in adjacent buildings. Morgane would visit a friend at Sea Gayle Music hoping to catch him in passing. After a few months, he asked if she’d like to write a song together. “That ended up being our first date,” she said in a 2015 interview with The Washington Post. “We didn’t get much writing done that night.”

The couple got married in 2007 and have been just about inseparable ever since. A talented singer-songwriter in her own right, Morgane collaborates with Chris in all aspects of his creative process. He has “you are my sunshine” etched into his wedding band, and the couple often perform the song together on stage. Chris also wrote one of her favorite songs, “Daddy Doesn’t Pray Anymore,” which was featured on his first album.

Chris and Morgane have five children: son Waylon, born in 2009; daughter Ada, born in 2010; twins Macon and Samuel, who arrived in 2018; and a son born in 2019 whose name the couple hasn’t revealed publicly. The whole family tours together.

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