Chris Stapleton: His Two Epic CMA Performances
Is it even an award show if Chris Stapleton isn’t there? He’s always participating in interesting collaborations: earlier this year, he performed with Stevie Wonder at the Grammy Awards. In 2021, he performed with H.E.R. at the CMT Awards. In 2018, he sang with Mavis Staples and Maren Morris at the CMAs. Of course, his breakout performance was at the CMAs in 2015, when he performed “Tennessee Whiskey” and “Drink You Away” with Justin Timberlake.
Just this past weekend, he, along with Sheryl Crow and Dave Matthews, performed with Willie Nelson at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Willie was inducted at the young age of 90!
Stapleton’s first performance last night at he CMAs was a solo one, promoting his new album, Higher, which is due out tomorrow (November 10). He performed the album’s first single, “White Horse,” which he was been playing at his concerts lately.
The second performance was somewhat surprising for his longtime fans. As hard as it would be to imagine Chris walking clean-shaven on stage, it was nearly as surprising to see him without a guitar. But as Carly Pearce told us yesterday about their performance, “You [will] kind of see Chris in a light that you’ve never seen him in before, which you’ll understand when you see it.”
It was kind of weird to see him just holding a mic and not playing guitar. They performed their duet, “We Don’t Fight Anymore,” and Stapleton’s performance was focused on his vocals.
Appropriately, right after that, Stapleton won the CMA Award for Male Vocalist of the Year. He said in his speech, “Thank you CMAs. Everyone in this category deserves this award,” referring to Luke Combs, Jelly Roll, Cody Johnson and Morgan Wallen. “I’ve won a couple of these,” he said, humbly. This was, in fact, the seventh time he’s won Male Vocalist of the Year at the CMAs. “I’m always shocked that I win one. And I’m humbled that I get to be here tonight in such a wonderful crowd of people. I want to thank my wife, Morgane, I don’t do any of this without her. I don’t get any of these [awards] without her.”
He began to tear up and dedicated the award to some friends he lost this year, including Mike Henderson, his former bandmate in bluegrass group the Steeldrivers, who died earlier this year. Henderson co-wrote “Broken Halos” with Stapleton.