After serving as the frontman of bluegrass group The SteelDrivers from 2008 to 2010, Stapleton released his debut studio album Traveller in 2015, which reached number one on the US Billboard 200 and was certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Among several accolades, he won the Country Music Association Awards and the Academy of Country Music Awards for Album of the Year and Male Vocalist of the Year, and the Grammy Award for Best Country Album and Best Country Solo Performance at the 58th annual ceremony. His second studio album, From A Room: Volume 1, was released on May 5, 2017. Stapleton's music styles include Southern rock and bluegrass.
Stapleton was born in a Lexington, Kentucky hospital. His mother worked at the local health department and his father was a coal miner. He comes from a family of coal miners. He has an older brother and younger sister.
Stapleton grew up in the small town of Staffordsville, Kentucky, which is located just outside of Paintsville, located between the city and the Paintsville lake. He graduated from Johnson Central High School where he was his class valedictorian and attended Vanderbilt University where he studied engineering, but dropped out after a year.
In 2001, Stapleton moved to Nashville, Tennessee to pursue a music career. As a songwriter, he signed with the publishing house Sea Gayle Music, a deal he got shortly after moving to Nashville.
In 2007, he became the frontman for the bluegrass group The Steeldrivers. They had two hit records; each peaked at number 2 on the bluegrass chart before Stapleton left in 2010.
In 2010, Stapleton founded a Southern rock band called The Jompson Brothers. The band was made up of Stapleton on vocals, Greg McKee on guitar, J.T. Cure on bass, Bard McNamee on drums. They toured regionally until 2013 and at one point, opened for the Zac Brown Band. The band independently released a self-titled album in November 2010.
In 2013, Stapleton signed to Mercury Nashville, a division of Universal Music Group Nashville, as a solo artist. His first single, "What Are You Listening To?", was released in October 2013, but did not perform as expected. The single was part of a record that was recorded but never released.
His debut solo album, Traveller, was released on May 5, 2015 to critical acclaim. Recorded in Nashville's RCA Studio A, Stapleton co-produced the album with producer Dave Cobb. On the album he plays guitar and sings with a live band that is made up of bass player J.T. Cure (from The Jompson Brothers), pedal steel player Robby Turner, drummer Derek Mixon, Mickey Raphael on harmonica, and wife Morgane Stapleton singing harmonies. Stapleton emphasized the importance of the band lineup that came together during the making and promotion of the record, saying the familiarity he had with Cure and Mixon (he has known and played with Cure for over 20 years), plus Cobb's producing which included contributing acoustic guitar in the recording process, added to the richness of making the record. The top selling country album of 2016, it has sold a total of 2 million copies domestically as of July 2017.
Stapleton said that the album was inspired by a road trip he took after his father died in 2013. He said he wrote the title track "Traveller" while on a road trip with his wife, driving down Interstate 40 from Phoenix, Arizona, to Nashville via New Mexico. His wife helped to sift through 15 years of songs to pick 9 songs to start recording with.
Stapleton won three awards at the 2015 CMA Awards: Album of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year, and New Artist of the Year. In December 2015, Stapleton received the 2015 CMT Artists of the Year Breakout award during a live performance at the annual CMT Artists of the Year show.
In January 2016, Stapleton performed "Either Way", a song he wrote with Kendall Marvel and Tim James, at the Country Radio Hall of Fame's Country Radio Seminar in Nashville. It was previously recorded by Lee Ann Womack for her 2008 album, Call Me Crazy.
In 2016, Stapleton – along with his wife Morgane – contributed the track, "You Are My Sunshine", to producer Dave Cobb's compilation record project, Southern Family. Stapleton performed on the main stage at the 2016 Country to Country festival in Europe along with Andrew Combs, Kacey Musgraves and headliner Eric Church.
Stapleton's second studio album, From A Room: Volume 1, was released on May 5, 2017. The album takes its name from Nashville's RCA Studio A, where it was recorded during the winter of 2016–17. The same month he embarked on his "All-American Road Show Tour".
Songs written by Stapleton have been included on to the soundtracks of several feature films, including Valentine's Day, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip. and Hell or High Water.
Stapleton also cowrote the theme—"All-Nighter Comin'"—to the WSM-AM show, The WSM All Nighter with Marcia Campbell, an American radio show with a large trucker following. He cowrote the song with Vince Gill and Al Anderson, with Gill featured on vocals on the track. He collaborated with Jake Owen on the song "If He Ain't Gonna Love You" on Owen's album American Love.
In 2013, Stapleton and his wife sang the Don Williams song, "Amanda", live at the Grand Ole Opry. They also did an NPR Tiny Desk Concert in November 2015.
At the 2014 CMT Artist of the Year event, Stapleton performed with Lady Antebellum, who played Stapleton's song, "Drink a Beer", which Luke Bryan had recorded, in honor of Bryan, who was unable to attend the ceremony due to a death in his family. Stapleton had sung on the song during Bryan's 2013 CMA Awards performance of the song.
At the 2015 CMA Awards, Stapleton performed with Justin Timberlake his version of the song popularized as a George Jones live-show staple, "Tennessee Whiskey" and Timberlake's "Drink You Away". Considered a career-defining moment by music publications, the performance along with his wins that night lifted him to national prominence.
Stapleton was the musical guest on the Saturday Night Live episode which aired January 16, 2016, alongside host Adam Driver. He performed "Parachute" and "Nobody to Blame" from Traveller.
Stapleton's personal influences range from outlaw country and bluegrass to rock and roll and blues. Editors from NPR and Paste magazine described his sound as a blend of country, classic rock and Southern soul. Before going solo, Stapleton led the progressive bluegrass band The SteelDrivers and the rock and roll band The Jompson Brothers. His first solo album Traveller is an old-school country, Southern rock and bluegrass record, and his second From A Room: Volume 1 focuses on country, blues and roots rock. He played the acoustic guitar and electric guitar for both albums.
Stapleton is a soul singer with a baritone vocal range. After attending one of his concerts in 2015, Los Angeles Times' writer Randy Lewis opined his singing recalls "the note-bending style of country that traces to Merle Haggard and Lefty Frizzell and the gut-wrenching expressionism of blues and R&B perfected by Ray Charles", while his guitar performances elicits "memories of Texas blues rocker Stevie Ray Vaughan." Stapleton has cited Charles, Otis Redding and Freddie King as some of his music influences, along with Kentucky-based country artists, Keith Whitley, Dwight Yoakam and Patty Loveless: "the list goes on and on. Those names are just part of life in Kentucky. You can't help but be aware of them and be influenced by them."
Stapleton is married to singer-songwriter Morgane Hayes, who co-wrote Carrie Underwood's 2006 single "Don't Forget to Remember Me". She had a recording deal with Arista Nashville. The couple met when they were working at adjacent publishing houses. They have two children and live in Nashville.
Stapleton has received multiple awards and nominations. He is the recipient of two Grammy Awards, five Academy of Country Music Awards, five Country Music Association Awards, two Billboard Music Awards, nine ASCAP Country awards for his work as composer, including the Vanguard Award, among others.Traveller (2015)
From A Room: Volume 1 (2017)