It’s hard to believe it’s been so long, but this week marked the five-year anniversary of Chris Stapleton’s catapult ride into the country spotlight. It’s been five years since he Justin Timberlake teamed up on the CMA Awards.
Taking the 49th annual CMA Awards stage together in unexpected style, the grizzled country songwriter and his clean-cut pop sidekick stole the show that night in 2015, and it arguably launched Stapleton to his current, Platinum-selling, stadium rocking status. The pair had become friends after Stapleton reportedly performed at a private event for Timberlake, so the “SexyBack” singer did his pal a solid by showing up to perform a two-song medley at the awards ceremony. And it has gone down as a legendary moment.
Delivering the one two punch of Stapleton’s “Tennessee Whiskey” and Timberlake’s “Drink You Away,” the performance pulled those in the audience out of their seats to dance, and had fans at home marveling at Stapleton’s sound. The Kentucky native’s red-hot blowtorch of a singing voice was already beloved by those in the Nashville community, and just needed a little nudge into the mainstream to achieve iconic status. That’s what Timberlake was able to help with, and the rest, as they say, is history.
The 2015 album Chris Stapleton was promoting (Traveller) has gone on to become a 4X Platinum smash, and his next two also went Platinum and Gold, respectively. Stapleton’s new release, Starting Over, comes out November 13, so we’ll see if the streak continues very soon. But you can relive the moment it all started in the video above.