RARE COUNTRY AWARDS: Watch the recap of this year's award winners and live performances by Kane Brown, LANCO & RaeLynn

As the world talks about Luke Bryan and Miranda Lambert and who Blake Shelton will bring as his date to this year’s CMA Awards, the true blue country music fans know this – tonight could change Chris Stapleton’s career.

The Kentucky native, best known for his slot as the lead singer of the bluegrass band “The Steeldrivers,” released his first full-length solo album “Traveller” this year, including the song he played on “CBS This Morning” earlier this year – “Tennessee Whiskey.”

In turn, the somewhat concept album gave Stapleton a newfound popularity within the country music industry…and for good reason. It also helped Stapleton rack up three CMA Award nominations, including “Male Vocalist of the Year,” “New Artist of the Year” and “Album of the Year” for “Traveller.” Stapleton will also join pop rocker Justin Timberlake in a special performance during the show.

So, he is a shoe-in, right?


Without much radio airplay and with a soft-spoken, keep-to-himself attitude, Stapleton may fall too far under the radar for CMA voters. But heck, he deserves at least one award tonight. “Traveller” entered the Billboard Country Albums Chart at No. 2 and Top 15 on Billboard’s Top 200 with over 27,000 albums sold making it the best-selling first week by a debut country artist in 2015. “Traveller” is also one of the Top 10 best first week country debuts in the last five years. And yes, “Travellerhas been one of the most talked about albums of the year.

Let’s just hope Stapleton is the talk of the town tonight.

Tricia Despres is the contributing editor for Rare Country, based out of Chicago, Illinois. Join the conversation on Twitter at @RareCountry. We would love to see y’all there.
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