Chris Stapleton exploded onto the music scene at the November 2015 Country Music Awards, where he performed a show-stealing duet with Justin Timberlake of the George Jones classic "Tennessee Whiskey" and Justin's "Drink You Away." Now, three years later, the two are topping the charts with their first recording together, "Say Something." (Check out the music video here.)
But Chris, 39, has been a behind-the-scenes fixture on the country music scene since 2001, when the east Kentucky native moved to Nashville and began working tirelessly as a songwriter. The son of a coal miner has written songs for George Strait ("Love's Gonna Make It Alright"), Kenny Chesney ("Never Wanted Nothing More"), Luke Bryan ("Drink a Beer"), and Darius Rucker ("Come Back Song"). In the past few years, Chris has received multiple awards including five Academy of Country Music Awards, seven CMA Awards, two Billboard Music Awards, and two Grammys.
This Sunday, Jan. 28, the country singer-songwriter will be performing with Emmylou Harris at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony in New York City, where he is also up for three awards. (His album From a Room: Volume 1 is up for Best Country Album, while his songs "Either Way" and "Broken Halos" are nominated for Best Country Solo Performance and Best Country Song, respectively.)
Here are 10 things you (probably) didn't know about Chris Stapleton.
1. He's been married to his wife Morgane Stapleton for ten years.
Chris met his wife 14 years ago while they were both working at the same music publishing company. Chris asked Morgane to write a song with him, which became their first date, . "We didn't get much writing done that night," said Morgane, who is now his frequent harmony partner on stage.
2. He has the words "You Are My Sunshine" engraved in his wedding ring.
It's a song he commonly plays at his concerts, and Morgane had it secretly etched into his ring before they wed in 2007, .
3. He signed a publishing deal just four days after moving to Nashville.
It's an accomplishment that even Stapleton acknowledges is almost unheard of. "That is not anybody's story, but that's mine," .
4. He used to work at Papa John's Pizza—and still keeps his employee badge in his medicine cabinet.
"Every time I open my medicine cabinet, I see it as a reminder that I worked a lot of different things to be doing what I'm doing now," .
5. He was mostly clean-shaven in high school and when he first moved to Nashville.
Somewhat surprising, given prolific facial hair today!
6. He was once the lead singer of a bluegrass band and a rock 'n' roll band.
The bluegrass group, , was called the SteelDrivers, and the rock band was named The Jompson Brothers.
7. He's the first artist to win Album of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year, and New Artist of the Year at the CMAs—all in the same year.
Chris pulled off this trifecta at the 2015 CMA Awards, thanks to his debut album Traveller.
8. He wrote the song "If It Hadn't Been For Love," which Adele recorded as a bonus track for her 2011 album, 21.
9. He's a father of two—soon to be four!
While they've chosen to not disclose their names publicly, Chris and Morgane are proud parents to a boy and a girl—and they currently have twins on the way. In fact, Chris says he and Justin Timberlake often bond over being fathers. "We talk about dad stuff and regular life stuff—and we talk about music a lot, too," Stapleton told back in 2015.
10. He hasn't forgotten his roots.
In 2016, Chris returned to his alma mater, Johnson Central High School in Kentucky, where he performed for the students and staff and donated $57,000 worth of musical instruments, part of the ACM Lifting Lives program, .