Chris Stapleton is nominated once again in 2017 for CMA Male Vocalist of the Year, and it's not hard to see why he should take it home this year.
The soulful county belter is no stranger to the award. He won it in 2015 as part of a surprise CMA sweep that turned him from a much-respected but little-known artist into an overnight star, and he was nominated again in 2016. Stapleton has had a huge year in 2017 with the release of From A Room: Vol. 1, his follow-up to the breakthrough album Traveller, and the project is chock-full of deserving vocal performances from Stapleton.
Even the most casual radio listener has probably heard "Either Way" and "Broken Halos," the two singles from the album, and while both feature Stapleton's signature grit, you have to dig further into the album to really understand Stapleton's true heart as a singer. Check out tracks including "Death Row," "Second One to Know" and "Without Your Love" to experience the true reasons why Chris Stapleton deserves to win Male Vocalist of the Year at the 2017 CMA Awards.
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There are probably better-trained technical singers in contemporary country music than Chris Stapleton, but nobody else owns the kind of signature voice that he possesses. Stapleton can belt out a hard-knocks song like he's been gargling gravel, but he can also deliver a plaintive ballad that will break your heart. He has a lived-in voice earned by long hard experience gig by gig, and that's something that can't be taught.
Most male country singers stay comfortably within the confines of the lower to middle range, but Stapleton doesn't hesitate to challenge rock belters by jumping up into some almost preposterously scorching high notes, which he can hit with a no-big-deal ease. Check out the latter third of "I Was Wrong" for just one example among many of Stapleton's jaw-dropping, high-octane upper range.
It's one thing to shine vocally on record, but Stapleton is a singer who can pull off every bit of what he sings in the studio on stage as well. His career-changing duet with Justin Timberlake on "Tennessee Whiskey" at the 2015 CMA Awards is just one example among many of Stapleton's stellar live chops, which he's been showing off all year on his All American Road Show Tour.
Unlike so many cookie cutter aspiring stars who are the product of a classroom in music business studies, Chris Stapleton has earned the grit in his voice through a lifetime onstage, in the studio and driving around to small gigs in vans. He's lived everything he sings, and that experience shows in the way he wears his vocal ability like an old, comfortable overcoat.
He's a Genuine Interpreter
Stapleton possesses range, character and the experience to use them all together, but there's one aspect of his vocal talent that goes beyond his actual voice. Stapleton is a genuine interpreter of songs in the vein of Willie Nelson, who can sing a song that he did not write and convey it just as convincingly as he does his own songs. He's a master storyteller. His impactful reading of Nelson's "Last Thing I Needed, First Thing This Morning" is just one example of his exceptional talents as a narrator, and just one more reason Chris Stapleton deserves to win Male Vocalist of the Year at the 2017 CMA Awards.