Christopher Alvin Stapleton was born April 15, 1978 in Lexington and grew up in the tiny Johnson County town of Staffordsville. Of course, proud Kentuckians and music fans know that Johnson Central High School alumnus Chris Stapleton is now one of the hottest acts in country music. He's been hailed as a new, "need to know" artist by media outlets from GQ to Rolling Stone to Garden & Gun, but he's actually been working as a singer and songwriter in Nashville for years.
Like his fellow Johnson County native Loretta Lynn, Chris Stapleton hails from a family of coal miners. His father and both his grandfathers worked in local mines. My friends and relatives in Johnson County assure me that Stapleton is as down-to-earth and nice as he was when he lived in the Appalachian hills. In fact, he recently returned home to perform a free concert at his alma mater, donate musical instruments to the Johnson Central Music Department, and film a Dodge Ram commercial.
In celebration of the nicest guy to take Outlaw Country by storm, here are five things you probably didn't know about Chris Stapleton.
- Stapleton's first stint in the Music City actually wasn't music-related -- in 1996, after graduating as his high school class's valedictorian, Chris studied engineering at Vanderbilt for a year before moving back to Eastern Kentucky to study and work in Morehead. A few years later, he moved back to Nashville and landed a songwriting contract within a week of his arrival.
- Chris met his wife, Morgane, when they were working as songwriters at adjacent publishing houses on Nashville's Music Row.
- Chris was a member of two bands -- the Bluegrass group The SteelDrivers and the Southern Rock ensemble The Jompson Brothers -- before releasing his breakout solo record Traveller.
- Stapleton wowed audiences with his duets with Justin Timberlake during the 2015 CMA Awards. They have been friends for years, and note that they often trade parenting tips. (Chris and Morgane Stapleton have two kids, while Justin and his wife Jessica Biel have an infant son.)
- Stapleton's prolific songwriting credits include songs recorded by Adele, George Strait, Alison Krauss, and Tim McGraw and collaborations with Darius Rucker and Sheryl Crow. If that isn't a wide enough range, he also has a spot on the upcoming Coachella lineup.
Happy birthday, Chris Stapleton! You've made Eastern Kentucky very proud!