Ronnie Dunn Speaks Out About Knowing Chris Stapleton Before Fame, Predicted His Huge Success

by Clayton Edwards

These days just about every country music fan knows who Chris Stapleton is. Between his next-level songwriting skills and his instantly-recognizable voice, Stapleton has become a household name. However, that wasn’t always the case. Long before he was a country hitmaker or the vocalist for The Steeldrivers or The Jompson Brothers, Chris was a songwriter on Music Row. Stapleton landed a publishing deal with Sea Gayle Music shortly after he came to Nashville in 2001. Even then, Ronnie Dunn knew he was going to be a star.

Ronnie Dunn didn’t need to see Chris Stapleton and Justin Timberlake perform “Tennessee Whiskey” at the 2015 CMA Awards to know the young songwriter had star potential. All he had to do was look at his work and listen to his voice. After all, Stapleton has written songs that got recorded by artists like Miranda Lambert, Dierks Bentley, Darius Rucker, and even George Strait. As far as his voice goes, well, we’ve all heard the guy sing.

“Tennessee Whiskey” with Justin Timberlake

In a recent interview with Fox News, Ronnie Dunn talked about meeting Chris Stapleton early in his career. He said that he knew Stapleton was going to do big things.

Ronnie Dunn Knew Chris Stapleton Would Be a Star

In the interview, Ronnie Dunn was talking about his new studio album 100 Proof Neon. The album is a throwback to late 80s and early 90s country. So, putting it on is like taking a step back in time to the last big hurrah of traditional-sounding country music. While talking about the good old days, Dunn highlighted a few recent artists that he enjoys.

Ronnie Dunn revealed that he enjoys music from Luke Combs and Morgan Wallen before bringing up Stapleton. While Dunn had some praise for the other artists, he had more to say about the “Tennessee Whiskey” crooner. “I’ve known Chris Stapleton from years ago when he was here working just a writer,” Dunn told the outlet. He went on to say that he made no secret about his predictions for Stapleton’s future.

“I used to always tell him, ‘Man, you’re going to be a star. You are a star with that voice and your ability to write,’” Dunn recalled.

When Ronnie Dunn is right, he’s right. Chris Stapleton has had a killer career so far. He sang on two albums from The Steeldrivers. To this day, their 2008 self-titled record and 2010’s Reckless are untouchable. Then, Stapleton joined The Jompson Brothers for their self-titled album before striking out on his own.

Stapleton released his solo debut Traveller a few months before his mind-blowing CMA performance. Since then, it has been certified 4x Platinum by the RIAA. That was just the beginning. Now, the Kentucky native has a trophy case full of awards including Grammys, CMAs, and ACMs. Additionally, his cover of “Tennessee Whiskey” is certified Diamond.

So yeah, I think it’s safe to say that Ronnie Dunn called that one.