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10 Great Songs You Didn’t Know Chris Stapleton Wrote

Revisit tracks the country powerhouse penned for artists ranging from Adele to George Strait

Chris Stapleton

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 13: Singer Chris Stapleton performs onstage at the 2016 MusiCares Person of the Year honoring Lionel Richie at the Los Angeles Convention Center on February 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for NARAS)

Larry Busacca/Getty Images for NARAS

It took 14 long years for Chris Stapleton to become an overnight success. Now the soul-country maverick has announced a new tour and album. The All-American Road Show tour builds on already announced dates in March and April. The new run kicks off May 5th and hits cities from Los Angeles to Philadelphia before wrapping up in Gilford, New Hampshire, on August 25th. Along the way, Stapleton will perform at historic venues like Denver’s Red Rocks Amphitheater and the Forum in L.A., plus festivals like Milwaukee’s Summerfest and Watershed in George, Washington.

After moving to Nashville in 2001, the Kentucky native kicked off his career as a songwriter for other singers, spending his days whipping up hits for Kenny Chesney, Josh Turner and Darius Rucker. His own bands came and went along the way, including a run with left-of-center bluegrass group the SteelDrivers and one album with half-serious Southern rockers the Jompson Brothers. By the time his duet with Justin Timberlake at the 2015 CMA Awards catapulted his solo career to the top of the mainstream, Stapleton had become one of the industry’s best-kept secrets: a songwriter, guitarist and knockout singer whose pen was just as mighty as his voice. Here, we take a look at some of the songs that helped get him there: 10 tracks that Stapleton wrote for others.

Thomas Rhett

Thomas Rhett, “Crash and Burn” (2015)

Stuck halfway between the worlds of Motown and modern-day pop, "Crash and Burn" could, at first listen, be mistaken for a Bruno Mars song. Once the track's brawny, big-hearted hook barrels its way into the mix, however, it's pure Stapleton. "Crash and Burn" topped the country charts in September 2015, just a handful of weeks before Stapleton's career-changing performance at the CMA Awards.

Sheryl Crow

Sheryl Crow featuring Zac Brown, “Homesick” (2013)

Sheryl Crow duets with Zac Brown on this mid-tempo ballad, but she teamed up with Stapleton for the song's creation. Released on her debut country album, Feels Like Home, the song feels like a thesis for the entire record, with Crow delivering the punchline — "I get homesick for anywhere but home" — with equal parts nostalgia and heartbreak.

George Strait

George Strait, “Love’s Gonna Make It Alright” (2011)

Stapleton was playing country-fried cock-rock with the Jompson Brothers when George Strait released this song in late 2011. A sweet, straightforward song about leaning on your loved one’s support, “Love’s Gonna Make It Alright” was proof that Stapleton couldn’t leave country music behind, even while his own band churned out hoot-worthy, horn-dog tunes like “Ride My Rocket.” Strait’s take on “Love” became a Top Three hit.

Josh Turner

Josh Turner, “Your Man” (2006)

Josh Turner's deep baritone may have given "Your Man" its signature rumble, but Stapleton gave it life, dreaming up the tune — his first chart-topper — with Chris DuBois and Jace Everett. It was Turner's first Number One, too, paving the way for a career that has since taken him up the charts four more times. Meanwhile, videos of Stapleton performing "Your Man" can be viewed on YouTube, with the songwriter replacing Turner's butter-smooth delivery with grit and dirty soul.

Alison Krauss

Alison Krauss & Union Station, “Miles to Go” (2011)

Alison Krauss’ recording of “Miles to Go” owes a debt not only to Stapleton, who co-wrote the song with Union Station bassist Barry Bales, but to the rest of the SteelDrivers too, thanks to an arrangement that mirrors the rootsy stomp of Stapleton’s former band. Lush and lovely, the song is one of the highlights of Paper Airplane, Krauss’ most recent album with Union Station.

Lee ann Womack

Lee Ann Womack, “There’s More Where That Came From” (2005)

Released more than a decade before Chris Stapleton's career-breaking performance at the 2015 CMA Awards, this kickoff track to Lee Ann Womack's 2005 album is country music at its most straightforward. Fiddle, baritone guitar and pedal steel lay the bedrock for Womack's voice, which howls a tale of cheating hearts and cheap motel rooms with equal parts pain and passion.