The world may have Vince Gill to thank for Chris Stapleton. As Stapleton points out just before performing a song of Gill’s for CMT Giants: Vince Gill, the Nineties star was an encouraging presence for younger songwriters like him when they were just getting started.
“The greatest impact that you’ve had on me besides the obvious thing of your music — I moved here wanting to be you — is you had the courage to encourage me,” says the normally reserved Stapleton to Gill during the taping, which took place Monday in Nashville at Belmont University’s Fisher Center for the Performing Arts.
“You’ve always had time to come watch me play or invite me on a songwriter’s round when I had no business being there,” Stapleton continues. “It really made a difference for me to get to do that, and I really do appreciate that. I love you from the bottom of my heart.”
Stapleon then turns in a stunning, soulful rendition of “Whenever You Come Around,” a 1994 single from Gill’s When Love Finds You, strumming an acoustic guitar while the house band backs him up. Though Stapleton’s voice has a more soulful, gritty texture than Gill’s, he can scale dramatic highs and runs with the same startling ease — a skill that earns him several rounds of applause from the crowd. The camera cuts over to Gill a couple of times during the performance, showing him rapt and mouthing along with the words.
The 2-hour CMT Giants: Vince Gill will air Friday, Sept. 16, at 9 p.m. ET on CMT and includes appearances by Brad Paisley, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, Maren Morris, Reba McEntire, Emmylou Harris, and Luke Combs.