Blake Shelton

Carrie Underwood

Chris Stapleton

KaCey Musgraves

Keith Urban




Chelsea Whitaker


Mason Crest PO Box 221876, Hollywood, FL 33022 (866) MCP-BOOK (toll-free) www.masoncrest.com

Copyright © 2023 by Mason Crest, an imprint of National Highlights, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission from the publisher.

First printing 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 ISBN (hardback) 978-1-4222-4491-3 ISBN (series) 978-1-4222-4486-9 ISBN (ebook) 978-1-4222-7326-5

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Names: Whitaker, Chelsea, author. Title: Chris Stapleton / Chelsea Whitaker. Description: Broomall : Mason Crest, 2023. | Series: Country music stars | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2020009636 | ISBN 9781422244913 (hardback) | ISBN 9781422273265 (ebook) Subjects: LCSH: Stapleton, Chris, 1978–Juvenile literature. | Country musicians–United States–Biography–Juvenile literature. Classification: LCC ML3930.S73 W55 2021 | DDC 782.421642092 [B]–dc23 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2020009636

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Contents BREAKTHROUGH ������������������������������������������������������������������ 6 CHAPTER 1: A STAR IS BORN �����������������������������������������������������11 CHAPTER 2: GREATEST MOMENTS ������������������������������������������������25 CHAPTER 3: BEHIND THE CURTAIN ���������������������������������������������39 CHAPTER 4: BRAND CHRIS STAPLETON ���������������������������������������� 51 CHAPTER 5: MODERN MEGASTAR ������������������������������������������������65 SERIES GLOSSARY OF KEY TERMS ���������������������������������������������76 FURTHER READING ����������������������������������������������������������������77 INTERNET RESOURCES ������������������������������������������������������������77 INDEX �������������������������������������������������������������������������������78 AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY, PHOTO CREDITS & EDUCATIONAL VIDEO LINKS ������80

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chris stapleton




chris stapleton



WORDS TO UNDERSTAND aspiring —desiring and working to achieve a particular goal mecca —a place regarded as a center for a specified group, activity, or interest mortality —the state of being subject to death


chris stapleton




Thanks to his fantastic duet at the CMAAwards, Chris Stapleton’s music was finally selling and getting airplay—even though this success seemingly came out of nowhere. Now seats for his upcoming tour were selling out. Stapleton had to hit the road fast to capitalize on his newfound fame—before fans moved on to the next underground sensation.

“I didn’t expect to win any CMA Awards. I was just going to have fun and play my songs. We rehearsed with Justin Timberlake for a day or two.” Stapleton had been scheduled by his label to join country legend Hank Williams Jr. on a short eight-show tour across the United States. Before the CMAs, Williams didn’t even know who Stapleton was. After the awards show, however, and when tickets started selling out, Williams took notice. During the tour, Stapleton’s star was outshiningWilliams’, thanks to his CMA performance, and the crowd’s cheers for Stapleton were noticeably louder.


a star is born

Stapleton’s live performances were instrumental in building his fan base after the release of his first album.

Even more telling was that many in the audience left after Stapleton—the “opener”—finished his set, missingWilliams entirely. Stapleton was just getting started. With every tour date, more and more fans showed up for his set only. Boosted by his live performances, Traveller went on to sweep the country category at the Grammy Awards as well, winning for Best Country Album and Best Solo Performance. Stapleton was on fire. By the end of 2016, his debut album Traveller would become the fourth best-selling album of 2016 and went platinum in February, just after his Grammy win. Stapleton had found success as a solo artist—but it was more than 15 years in the making. A LONG ROAD TO TRAVEL Traveller may have been Stapleton’s first solo album, but it was far from his songwriting debut. In fact, Stapleton had spent more than a decade on Nashville’s Music Row, writing and selling songs for other established artists.


chris stapleton

Stapleton went to college in Nashville, where he attendedVanderbilt University.

It all started when Stapleton was in college. Stapleton was never into music growing up in his small hometown of Staffordsville, Kentucky—he preferred football to choir class. He grew up in a working-class family, with both his father and grandfather working in coal mines.When it was time for Stapleton to choose a career, he played it safe by studying engineering nearby at Vanderbilt University—located in the country music mecca of Nashville. Engineering school wasn’t a good fit for Stapleton. After just one year, he realized classes weren’t for him and dropped out. After picking up the music bug during his short college experience in Nashville, Stapleton started a Travis Tritt tribute band back in his hometown. Stapleton connected to the country crooner, saying his brand of outlaw country took him back to his roots. The bluegrass band wasn’t bringing in rent money, so Stapleton worked odd jobs and ended up living in a communal artist loft with no air conditioning where he paid just $80 a month—which was what the college dropout could afford.


a star is born

Stapleton got his start in a band that covered the songs of 1990s

country star Travis Tritt.

“We played bluegrass and I really got heavy into it. We’d sit around and pick and have a good time every night. That’s where the discovery of that kind of music came from. I didn’t really grow up with that kind of music.”

Stapleton was discovering the music that would take him out of the slums and into the spotlight.


chris stapleton

TRAVIS TRITT Stapleton may have started his career in a cover band, but it was for no ordinary star—he chose a country icon with lots of soul. Born in 1963, by the time he was twenty-five, TravisTritt, had already released more than seven albums onWarner Brothers. His sound is decidedly country, but he was deeply influenced by soul and gospel music. Tritt had been singing since childhood, but after visiting anAfricanAmerican church, he started to add “a little more soul” in his voice. He was inspired by how the choir singers put “all these bends and sweeps and curls” in their voices and began emulating that sound. Tritt kept his style rugged and blended rock guitar with his soulful vocals. That and his wild stage show gave him a reputation as “outlaw country.”Tritt had five No. 1 hits and more than 10 top-ten singles over his career and is still touring today. For Stapleton, Tritt’s blend of genres attracted him to play Tritt’s music. The influence fromTritt’s sound can be heard in Stapleton’s own vocals—and also seen in Stapleton’s edgy personal style.


“I always thought that when George Strait was singing a song, he made it up, and that was the end of it. But the instant I found out that (songwriting) could be a job, I thought, ‘That’s the job for me.’ ”

The more he played music, the more Stapleton felt he had something special. Then he discovered the profession he had been destined for— songwriting.


a star is born

“I moved to town with a chair, a sleeping bag, a sack full of clothes, a recorder and my guitar. I didn’t want a cell phone. I didn’t want someone to be able to get a hold of me or know where I was, at any point in time. I wanted to be able to throw all my stuff in my car and leave.” Through a friend at Morehead State University, Stapleton contacted songwriter Steve Leslie, who was looking to help an aspiring songwriter from the area. Stapleton fit the bill. He submitted a few songs, and Leslie could sense there was potential. After three months of making trips back and forth between Stratford and Nashville—a three-hour drive—Stapleton was getting restless and needed a change.

As Stapleton played more and more shows, he realized that he had real potential for a career as a performer.

Stapleton decided to risk it all. He returned to the Music City with two months of rent money from a supportive uncle. The risk paid off—within a week, he signed a publishing deal with Sea Gayle Music at age twenty-three. Stapleton got to work fast, writing three songs a day, every day, for four years. Stapleton penned more than 170 songs, including hits recorded by Adele, TimMcGraw, Brad Paisley, and Dierks Bentley. One was a smash hit for Kenny Chesney—“NeverWanted Nothing More” spent five weeks as No. 1 on the charts! Stapleton became a constant presence in his label’s Nashville offices and even collaborated with fellow songwriters Peter Frampton and Sheryl Crow. He was thriving in his role as a songwriter—but that didn’t mean he left the stage behind.


chris stapleton

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