‘American Idol’: Did Chris Stapleton Star on the Show?

by Sean Griffin

Chris Stapleton is one of the most talented, acclaimed, and widely-recognized country singers in the industry. The beloved singer-songwriter is a juggernaut of country music. He owns eight Grammy Awards, ten Academy of Country Music Awards, and fourteen Country Music Association Awards. He was also named ACM’s Artist-Songwriter of the Decade.

The “Tennessee Whiskey” and “Starting Over” singer reached a feat that most country singers have only dreamed of. His 2015 smash hit album Traveller reached #1 on the US Billboard 200 and was certified four-times platinum. Stapleton was recently honored with a new exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville.

However, many wonder how Stapleton’s meteoric rise to stardom began. For decades, the hit show American Idol has launched the careers of scores of chart-topping musicians. For instance, Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Adam Lambert, Clay Aiken, Chris Daughtry, Jennifer Hudson, Jordin Sparks, and Kellie Pickler all launched lucrative careers after appearing on the TV show.

So, that begs the question: was Chris Stapleton one of the musicians who got his start on the hit show American Idol?

The answer, plainly, is no. He never appeared on American Idol. Chris Stapleton’s start in music was a traditional one for country musicians. He moved to Nashville in 2001 and wrote hit songs like Kenny Chesney’s “Never Wanted Nothing More” and Josh Turner’s “Your Man.” However, before he broke out in 2015 as a solo artist, Stapleton belonged to several groups.

Stapleton’s Nashville Beginnings and Impact on American Idol

As Chris Stapleton’s reputation as a songwriter for other artists grew, he took the time to start carving out his own musical path. In 2007, he became the frontman of the bluegrass group the SteelDrivers. Both of their records peaked at the #2 position on the bluegrass chart before Stapleton left the group in 2010. Then, he founded a southern rock group called the Jompson Brothers. His group even opened up for Zac Brown Band before Stapleton signed to Mercury Nashville as a solo artist.

Once he released his breakout album Traveller in 2015, the rest was history. The album easily became the best-selling country music album of the year.

However, even though Chris Stapleton never appeared as a contestant on American Idol, his songs have been covered by several contestants on the show. For instance, Courtney Penry, 25, once auditioned on the show by singing Stapleton’s hit “Parachute.” While her rendition was incredible, the judges requested her to sing another song that was even more emotional. Her performance can be viewed here.

And no one can forget Chayce Beckham’s amazing 2021 performance of Stapleton’s hit song “Fire Away.” In this video, Beckham belts out the lyrics in classic Stapleton style. Beckham won the 19th season of American Idol. The judges beamed at Beckham’s performance. Legendary singer Lionel Richie told him “That grip you have is undeniable. We are so proud of you.”