Last night’s Country Music Association Awards may have been dominated by awkward jokes about the split between stars Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton, and Lambert did accept a record sixth consecutive Female Vocalist of the Year award.
But there was one clear winner of last night’s show.
That’s Chris Stapleton, who’s better known as an established songwriter in the industry for other artists including Kenny Chesney and George Strait. Stapleton went three-for-three last night, winning Album of the Year, New Artist of the Year, and Male Vocalist of the Year, in what’s easily his breakout moment as a solo artist.
“This is an unbelievable thing, and I’m not going to take it lightly,” he said during a humble acceptance speech.
Stapleton’s wins surprised many in the country industry. While commercially successful, Traveller was Stapleton’s debut as a solo artist, and its stripped-down sound is far from the modern country-pop that is usually celebrated at the CMAs.
Stapleton had no trouble proving his chops (and incredible voice), however, with a duet cover of “Tennessee Whiskey,” popularised by George Jones, that he did alongside Justin Timberlake. The unlikely duo gave the most thrilling performance of the night.
Even Lambert couldn’t help gushing. “Justin Timberlake and Chris Stapleton, thank you very much! I’m gonna go home and practice,” she said after the performance.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.