Chris Stapleton’s bold but simple plan: to put music first

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — These last few years, Chris Stapleton is often surprised by early-morning texts of congratulations from his friends. Take, for instance, last week, when the Grammy Award nominations were announced.

“That’s how I usually find out. People go ‘Congratulations’ and I go ‘What for?’” Stapleton said. He eventually discovered that he was nominated for three awards, including best country album, best country song and best country solo performance. “That’s usually what happens to me because I usually don’t know what’s going on.”

Since his sensational debut solo album, “Traveller,” was released in 2015, he’s won two Grammy Awards and scores of Country Music Association and Academy of Country Music Awards. The album continued to dominate the country album sales chart this year and has been certified double platinum.

He released two new albums this year — the Grammy-nominated “From A Room: Volume 1,” which came out in May, and “From A Room: Volume 2,” which came out Dec. 1.

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His success lies in his bold simplicity: His recordings are cut live in the studio with his band; his wife, Morgane, sings harmony; and his producer is Dave Cobb. Stapleton isn’t verbose and neither are his lyrics, so it’s no surprise that everyone from Adele to Luke Bryan has recorded his songs. “Either Way,” which is nominated for best country solo performance, is literally his voice and a guitar.

“I think simple is harder to do than making overly complicated things,” Stapleton said. “Much in the way that I think lyrically in songwriting less words can mean more, the same can be true of music. If you can, for lack of a better term, sell a song without putting in extraneous instrumentation … then that’s what serves the song the best.”

His touring is an extension of the idea of putting the music first. On his arena tour this year, he plays on a stage shaped like a half-circle band shell with lights. “While it looks like some science fiction piece, it’s a giant diffuser that controls frequency and stage volume,” Stapleton explains.

He doesn’t use in-ear monitors, those ear buds that allow artists to hear the music, preferring monitors placed on the stage; the stage allows him to better project his music to the seats in the back of the arena.

“I am not trying to make the biggest, most elaborate, pyrotechnic…

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