Chris Stapleton set the country music industry on its ear on Wednesday night (Nov. 4), when he swept all three of his nominations at the 2015 CMA Awards.

Stapleton's debut album, Traveller, was one of the most critically acclaimed of 2015, but backstage in the press room after the awards, he professed astonishment at having won Best New Artist, Male Vocalist and even Album of the Year.

"It's surreal," he said. "Very unbelievable … It’s a wonderful feeling. And it’s a lot of love. I feel a lot of love. I feel very loved. It’s a short answer, but it’s a real one."

On top of his winning streak, Stapleton got the opportunity to introduce his music to a huge audience at home when he teamed up with Justin Timberlake for an incendiary performance that was one of the most talked-about of the night. The results were immediate, with Stapleton — who had previously been a critical darling with smaller sales — surging to No. 1 on iTunes after the CMA broadcast.

"All those guys, and all my guys too, brought it," he said of the performance. "They’re pros and then some. It elevates you, in a way that maybe can’t happen on its own. All those guys, my wife … to get to do this tonight in the way that we did it, it’s a crazy thing. It’s way crazy."

Still, he wasn't intimidated performing next to the superstar.

"I'm never afraid to get on stage and sing and play music. That’s my happy place, so that doesn’t make me nervous," Stapleton stated. "I know who was standing next to me, but at the same time, he’s so great and a wonderful person, and makes music even more fun. That was the least of my worries, getting up and playing tonight. The thing I’m most afraid of is saying the wrong thing in a room like this. You guys are more scary to me than that."

Now that the spotlight has swung his way, Stapleton admits, "I have no idea what’s next. I’ve been in the music business a while, but I’ve never done anything like this. It’s been a bit overwhelming, but I’m going to do my best to handle it with some degree of grace. I’m gonna keep making music that hopefully I think is good, and whatever comes out of that, that will be fine with me."

See Country Stars on the Red Carpet at the 2015 CMA Awards

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