Best Minimalist: Chris Stapleton
Chris Stapleton did more with less during his prime-time performance slot at Nissan Stadium on Saturday night, needing only three other musicians – including producer Dave Cobb on guitar – to flatten the place. His set was surprisingly generous, running nearly 10 songs in length (compared to the usual four or five) with highlights including "Nobody to Blame," "Hard Livin'," "Midnight Train to Memphis," "Second One to Know" and "Broken Halos," the last of which was aided by an impassioned, stadium-wide chorus. While we certainly missed the exquisite harmonies of Stapleton's wife Morgane, who recently gave birth to twin sons, it was heartening to know that all he had to do to have CMA Fest eating out of the palm of his hand was to open his mouth and let that incredible voice do the rest. J.F.