Two years ago, Chris Stapleton completely flipped mainstream country on its head. Armed with his guitar, alongside pop star Justin Timberlake, Stapleton stormed the the CMA establishment with his scraggly beard and thunderous, whiskey-soaked voice. He seemingly came out of nowhere ⎯⎯ although, longtime fans will know him from his work as frontman of The Steeldrivers and one of the most sought after songwriters in Nashville ⎯⎯ and has since scored platinum records and trophy cases full of major hardware, including two previous Grammy awards for his solo work. Now, back with his sophomore record, the first half titled From a Room, Vol. 1, he has returned to the forefront of the 2018 Grammy Awards where he will compete in two country categories, including Best Country Album.
Historically, Stapleton is the clear winner. His 2015 debut Traveller took home the CMA for Best Country Album and would go on to snatch the Grammy equivalent a few short months later. From a Room, Vol. 1 is coming off a much-deserved CMA win (again for Best Country Album), and history seems to be destined to repeat itself. His eventual triumph is not unfounded, either. He continues to be the best-selling artist in country music. Stapleton's just-released follow-up, called From a Room, Vol. 2, remains No. 1 on the iTunes all-genre album chart and is predicted to move more than 100,000 units first week of release. Meanwhile, From a Room, Vol. 1 sits at No. 14 and Traveller at No. 30. He is a force that shows no shines of slowing down.
During his short-lived tenure with The Steeldrivers, he earned a set of Grammy nominations, including Best Bluegrass Album (for 2010's Reckless) and Best Country Performance by a Duo/Group (for "Blue Side of the Mountain," from 2008's self-titled LP). Country music fans love him, and voters seem to be incredibly infatuated with him. "I don't make records to win awards. I make records to make records, and hopefully, make the records as good as they can be. That's what these awards hopefully represent," Stapleton once reflected.
Best Country Album is an otherwise heavy pop-country field, rounded out by Kenny Chesney's Cosmic Hallelujah, Lady Antebellum's Heart Break, Little Big Town's The Breaker and Life Changes by Thomas Rhett.
Stapleton's fate is seemingly written in the stars, and all we need to do now is wait.