Chris Stapleton‘s rise to stardom is the center of the latest exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville. Chris Stapleton: Since 1978, presented by Ram Trucks, opened Friday (July 1), and highlights the celebrated artist’s journey from a small town in Kentucky to his breakthrough as a solo artist after establishing himself as one of Nashville’s most talented songwriters.
Born in Lexington, Ky., in 1978, and raised in the mountains of Staffordsville, Ky., Stapleton developed a deep connection with music early in his life. He taught himself how to play the guitar and began writing songs as a teenager, and found creative inspiration from a range of artists, from the Judds and Willie Nelson to Snoop Dogg and Tom Petty. He moved to Nashville to attend Vanderbilt University in 1996, but dropped out after his first year and headed back to Kentucky. He juggled an array of odd jobs to get by, but his life trajectory changed after a chance meeting with songwriter Steve Leslie inspired him to pursue music as a full-time career.
In 2001, Stapleton took a chance and moved back to Nashville, quickly snagging a publishing deal with Sea Gayle Music. Stapleton earned his first No. 1 hit as a songwriter when Josh Turner took “Your Man” to the top of the charts in 2006, an accomplishment that kicked off an important new chapter in his career. That same year, Stapleton became the front man of the established bluegrass band the SteelDrivers and stayed busy recording and touring while continuing to write and record background vocals for country hitmakers including Luke Bryan and Thomas Rhett.
The release of Stapleton’s 2015 debut album Traveller, which he recorded in Nashville’s historic RCA Studio A with co-producer Dave Cobb, changed everything. His live collaboration with Justin Timberlake at the 2015 Country Music Association Awards made him a household name overnight and took the record, along with his version of “Tennessee Whiskey,” all the way to No. 1 within a matter of days.
Since then, Stapleton has released three more solo albums, sold out arenas and venues across the globe and recorded collaborations with pop stars like Taylor Swift and Adele. His accolades include 14 CMA Awards, 9 ACM Awards and 9 Grammy Awards. Alongside his wife and accomplished singer-songwriter in her own right, Morgane, Chris Stapleton has cemented his own place in country music history.
That unexpected journey to stardom is at the center of the Hall of Fame’s new exhibit, which includes an array of instruments, awards and personal keepsakes from throughout Stapleton’s life and career. Chris Stapleton: Since 1978 includes mementos from his early years in Kentucky, including a collection of his Cub Scout badges, his senior yearbook’s superlative feature naming him “Most Stylish” and his employee name tag from Papa John’s, where he worked after dropping out of college. Fans can also see a collection of plaques and awards from his early years as a songwriter, along with instruments and amplifiers Stapleton used while recording Traveller.
Jewelry and clothing from Chris and Morgane’s live performances and appearances are also on display, along with unique mementos like a custom Lego recreation of Stapleton and his bandmates, and the Golden Waffle award, which recognized Stapleton as the most-played artist on Waffle House jukeboxes in 2019.
Chris Stapleton: Since 1978, presented by Ram Trucks, opened on July, 1, 2022, and is set to run at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum until May 14, 2023.
PHOTOS: See Inside Chris Stapleton’s New Country Music Hall of Fame Exhibit
A new exhibit highlighting the life and career of Chris Stapleton is currently open at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in downtown Nashville.
Chris Stapleton: Since 1978 includes childhood keepsakes, instruments, awards, clothing and unique keepsakes that tell the story of the Kentucky native’s journey from an aspiring songwriter to one of country music’s biggest stars.