The coronation of Chris Stapleton continues. The bearded roots-rocker won Best Country Album of the Year at Monday night’s Grammy Awards for Traveller, his excellent bourbon and blues-soaked 2015 release, which EW named the best country album of last year.
“This is something you never ever dream of so I’m super grateful for it,” he said during his acceptance speech before recognizing the album’s producer Dave Cobb, his label, his family, and his fellow musicians.
Stapleton also shouted out Taylor Swift for “glitter bombing” him.
Heading into the awards Stapleton was also nominated for Best Country Song and Best Country Solo Performance for “Traveller.” He took home hardware for Best Country Solo Performance before the ceremony even started. His collection also earned an all-genres nomination, landing a nod for Album of the Year alongside Alabama Shakes’ Sound & Color, Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly, Taylor Swift’s 1989, and the Weeknd’s Beauty Behind The Madness.
Some were surprised Stapleton’s name was missing from the Best New Artist category when nominations were announced in December — but while Traveller is the singer’s debut solo collection, Stapleton was previously nominated for his work with his former bluegrass outfit, the Steeldrivers, making him ineligible.
Stapleton’s fêting comes at an interesting time in Nashville, where what works on country radio is in constant conversation, often-maligned by critics, and in rare cases openly and begrudgingly accepted by artists. 2015 was a year where the “tomatoes“ of the genre were underserved and the men near the top were largely indistinguishable. And while it’s hardly unheard of for an awards show to shower a critical darling and eschew bigger cache names — anyone remember Arcade Fire winning Album of the Year at the 2011 ceremony? — that Traveller just this month produced its first Top 20 single on country airplay charts is telling of the current disparity between commercial success and industry acclaim for the genre.
But, as many know but even more forget, Stapleton is also a country veteran, having written recent radio No.1’s for Luke Bryan and Thomas Rhett, as well as more than 170 other hits over the past 15 years for the likes of Kenny Chesney, Darius Rucker, Sheryl Crowe, and more. Last November, as he accepted his Album of the Year Award during the CMA broadcast, he thanked all of them, for “helping him support his family over the years.”
Traveller‘s award season will continue at the 2016 ACM Awards in April. Stapleton earned nominations for Male Vocalist of the Year, New Male Vocalist of the Year, Album of the Year, and Vocal Event of the Year for his collaboration with Gary Allan on “Hangover Tonight.”