Chris Stapleton walked away from Wednesday (Nov. 4) night’s CMA Awards with four big wins: His trophies for best new artist, album of the year and male vocalist of the year, plus his much-loved collaboration with Justin Timberlake.
And after the show, Stapleton came backstage to talk with reporters on what had to be the biggest night of his life.
First, about those awards.
“My earliest memories of music were kind of outlaw country folks,“ he said. “My dad did love music, and he’d listen to it quite loud in the car. I was inspired by the way those records sounded, and wanted to do something that gave a tip of the hat to that.”
Gesturing to the three trophies in front of him, he said, “I’ve been in the music business a while, but I’ve never done anything like this. It’s overwhelming. It’s surreal. Very unbelievable. I feel a lot of love.”
As for Timberlake, Stapleton said the performance, of his own “Tennessee Whiskey” and Timberlake’s “Drink You Away,” was the easy part.
“I know who was standing next to me,” he said, “but he’s so great and a wonderful person, and makes music even more fun. That was the least of my worries was getting up and playing tonight. All his guys and all my guys brought it. They’re pros and then some. It elevates you in a way that maybe cannot happen on your own. To get to do this tonight was a crazy thing. It’s way crazy.”
Stapleton added that he is never afraid before a performance like that, even when it’s with a star like Timberlake, because the stage is his happy place. “That doesn’t make me nervous. What I’m most afraid of is saying the wrong thing in a room like this,” he joked.