Watch entertainer of the year nominee Chris Stapleton's emotional tribute to his biggest fans Getty Images/Alberto E. Rodriguez
Getty Images/Alberto E. Rodriguez

Chris Stapleton is usually a man of few words when he’s accepting trophies on TV, but he got pretty talkative when the live TV cameras weren’t rolling at an awards show in Nashville on Oct. 31.

Chris is this year’s recipient of the ASCAP Vanguard Award, which is given every year to a songwriter who is helping shape the future of music. At the annual ASCAP Country Music Awards in Nashville just days before The 50th Annual CMA Awards, Chris spoke for more than four minutes thanking his fellow musicians and songwriters in the audience.

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In his freewheeling speech, Chris said, “I’m so grateful for all the friends and people in this room that I’ve learned things from. I keep saying, I try to learn something from everybody I write with. It’s a great joy to get to be a part of things with so many people who have made things like this possible and what we’re getting to do right now with our one little record that could. It’s an amazing honor to get this award tonight. I really am truly, truly grateful for it.”

Chris also gave a shoutout to his hero, Ricky Skaggs, who received the ASCAP Founders Award at the event. Before he hit it big on last year’s CMA Awards performing “Tennessee Whiskey,” Chris actually attended a party in Nashville just to meet Ricky. They both hail from Eastern Kentucky and have their musical roots in bluegrass, so Chris always felt a kinship to Skaggs.

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Chris addressed Ricky, who was sitting in the audience, saying, “You probably won’t remember this, Mr. Skaggs, but you had a record release party for a record one time, and I brought a mandolin in and I had you autograph it, and I was so nervous. I got this mandolin out, and I wanted you to autograph my mandolin. You said, ‘You sure you want me to write on this mandolin?’ And I questioned it for a minute. I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s what I brought it for.'”


Ricky and Chris will both be appearing on The 50th Annual CMA Awards at 8 p.m. ET Wednesday, Nov. 2 on ABC. Chris is a leading nominee with five nods this year including entertainer of the year.

Hunter Kelly is a senior correspondent for Rare Country. Follow him on Twitter @Hunterkelly.
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