Chris Stapleton spent years honing his craft as a performer and songwriter before exploding onto the mainstream country music scene as a solo artist following his performances of “Tennessee Whiskey” and “Drink You Away” with Justin Timberlake at the 2015 CMA Awards. That collaboration exposed Stapleton and his critically acclaimed debut record Traveller to a wider audience, who immediately connected with the Kentucky native’s soulful voice and deeply powerful lyrics. Two years later, the release of an especially personal song once again brought Stapleton’s lyrical depth and undeniable talent as a performer to the forefront.

This important new chapter began when “Broken Halos” was selected as the second single from the country star’s acclaimed 2017 album From a Room: Volume 1. Stapleton co-wrote the song with Mike Henderson, who he played alongside during the early 2000s as members of the bluegrass band the SteelDrivers.

Although the song wasn't formally released until July 2017, country fans were first introduced to his moving new song on Dec. 13, 2016, when Stapleton appeared on Dolly Parton's Smoky Mountains Rise: A Benefit for the My People Fund telethon. The event was held to raise money for the thousands of Tennessee residents whose homes were destroyed by raging wildfires that overtook the area. Accompanied by his equally-talented wife Morgane, Stapleton offered up a stirring musical tribute to the 14 people who were killed in the natural disaster.

The country-gospel track took on a whole new meaning just a few months later when 64-year-old Stephen Paddock opened fire on concertgoers at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas, Nev. on Oct. 21, 2017. The mass shooting resulted in 60 deaths and over 400 injuries, and sent shockwaves through the country music community. In the days and weeks that followed, Stapleton publicly dedicated many of his live performances of “Broken Halos” to shooting victims and their loved ones.

During UMG’s 2017 Country Radio Seminar showcase at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, Stapleton revealed that he had recorded the song on the same day that a close friend had died from pancreatic cancer. He told the crowd how his friend had lost his life at just 38 years old — the same age as Stapleton — and explained that they had known each other from a young age, even playing Little League games together.

In an interview with Howard Stern, Stapleton said the first spark of inspiration for the song came from Henderson, who was struck by the phrase “Broken Halos” after spotting it as a chapter title in Keith Richards' 2010 autobiography, Life. He brought up the title to Stapleton and the pair immediately got to work, penning the haunting country-rock ballad in just one hour.

“Broken Halos” quickly became one of Stapleton’s most celebrated releases, earning the title of Best Country Song at the 60th annual Grammy Awards and the trophies for Single of the Year and Song of the Year and the 52nd Country Music Association Awards.

Although Stapleton’s list of creative accomplishments is lengthy, the lasting impact of “Broken Halos” can best be measured by the overwhelming reception from country fans. The song has established itself as both a means of comfort in the wake of loss and a tribute to the beautiful fragility of life, echoing the messages of modern classics like Garth Brooks’ “The Dance” and Vince Gill's "Go Rest High on That Mountain."

Over the past five years, Stapleton’s career has only continued to skyrocket. He finished his two-part project with the release of From a Room: Volume 2 in Dec. 2017, which debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart and snagged a nomination for Best Country Album at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards. In 2020, he released his fourth studio album Starting Over, which includes the standout singles "You Should Probably Leave" and “Joy of My Life.” He’s been an active cross-genre collaborator, appearing on Taylor Swift’s "I Bet You Think About Me" and Adele’s alternate version of “Easy on Me” in 2021.

While fans patiently wait for new music, Stapleton is staying busy out on the road, with dates for his All-American Road Show Tour currently scheduled through the end of 2022. You can find a full list of concert dates and ticketing information at Chris Stapleton’s official website.

Chris Stapleton, “Broken Halos” Lyrics:

Seen my share of
Broken halos
Folded wings that used to fly

They've all gone
Wherever they go
Broken halos that used to shine

Angels come down
From the heavens
Just to help us on our way
Come to teach us
Then they leave us
And they find some other soul to save

Seen my share of
Broken halos
Folded wings that used to fly
They've all gone
Wherever they go
Broken halos that used to shine
Broken halos that used to shine

Don't go looking
For the reasons
Don't go asking
Jesus why?
We're not meant to know the answers
They belong to the by and by
They belong to the by and by

Seen my share of
Broken halos
Folded wings that used to fly
They've all gone
Wherever they go
Broken halos that used to shine
Broken halos that used to shine

Broken halos that used to shine
Broken halos that used to shine

Every Grammy Awards Best Americana Album Winner Ever

This list focuses on the winners of the Grammys' Best Americana Album category since it was created in 2010. The Grammys are known for their eclectic choices in nominees, and this list fittingly includes a mixture of well-known names, lesser-known artists and cross-genre icons.