“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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