Chris Stapleton and Justin Timberlake shook the country music world at the 2015 Country Music Awards by collaborating for a special rendition of Tennessee Whiskey. The performance helped shine a spotlight on Stapleton as a performer and introduced his musical talent to a wider audience.
Back in March, Luke Combs discussed the significance of this moment with Joe Rogan on his podcast, the Joe Rogan Experience. He highlights the profound impact the performance had on the country music scene and how it affected his mindset as a young artist.
“I think Chris Stapleton singing Tennessee Whiskey with Justin Timberlake at the CMAs was an earth-shattering moment for country music. And that opened the door up for guys like myself to pursue a career… somebody who didn’t look like every other guy in town.”
Combs found it inspiring to see Stapleton, someone who doesn’t fit the “normal” mold of a popular artist in the genre, absolutely killing it on stage alongside one of the most well-known figures of the global music stage. It helped him disprove any self-conscious doubts he had in himself based on his general looks and how they could impact his value toward record labels.
“He had 250 cuts as a songwriter when that performance happened. It was just no one gave him a chance because he was a husky guy with a beard.”
Stapleton was already a highly-regarded songwriter in Nashville at the time of the 2015 CMAs, but his talent as a performer was lesser known. This performance helped shatter norms that had been set in a country music scene in which many the biggest names in Nashville looked and sounded very similar to each other. It proved that artists can thrive as their true, authentic self, and that true talent transcends boundaries.
Combs isn’t saying that if it weren’t for Stapleton and this performance, he wouldn’t have gotten the recognition he has received. His undeniable talent would have most likely still provided him with great success in the country music industry. That being said, this incredible CMA moment absolutely had a major impact on his confidence as an artist and faith in his brand.
You can listen or watch the full podcast on Spotify. Skip to 19:55 in the interview to hear this discussion.