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Chris Stapleton Recalls Being Nervous Singing National Anthem at Super Bowl

Chris Stapleton stopped by The Bobby Bones Show to talk about his ACM Award nominations, how he balances work and life, and he shared why he was so nervous to sing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl.  

Stapleton is known as one of the greatest singers and songwriters who keeps his personal life private, but he is still trying to master work life balance, which he said is a hard thing to do in the music industry. He tries to find balance in his career and personal life by making conscious choices to choose living sometimes over career and money. Sometimes that means saying no to things, which is hard because for so long he was trying to make it so he said yes to every opportunity he was presented with, and now when he says no, he gets scared he may never be presented with another one.  

He knows others may view him as one of the greatest, but to him, he still feels like a working musician who is trying to keep their gig. He said another problem he faces with work life balance is he always wants to be better at his job, so no matter what he achieves, there is always that next thing to work for and there is never an end. He admits it’s hard learning to flip that switch and be present, but he’s trying. Stapleton is now at a point in his life where his dream is achieving that work life balance and be present for his five children and wife. His oldest child is 14 and the youngest is 4, and throughout the years he’s unfortunately had to miss some of their events. But he makes a real effort to make things sacred so he can make it to their events.  

He said he’s done so many things that he’s never dreamed of and as he’s gotten older, he doesn’t have as much of a fear of failure anymore because he knows that’s how you learn. He’s reached a space where he’s not trying to compete against anyone but himself.  

Stapleton’s new single is “Joy of My Life,” which is a John Fogerty cover. He chose that song because he’s always loved it, and he knows he would’ve never thought of writing the song that way. It’s neat to him when he finds songs that can be personal, but they didn’t come from him.  

The last time he was nervous for a performance was when he sang the National Anthem at the Super Bowl earlier this year because if you mess it up it's remembered forever. He said the main goal was to not mess up the words or the melody. He had been asked to sing the anthem for multiple other events, but always said he wasn’t going to do it unless he was offered the Super Bowl, and thought he’d never get that call. But since he did, he stuck to his word and is now retired from singing the anthem again. As amazing as a musician Stapleton is, he admits he does not have perfect pitch and that he doesn’t know the names of the chords he plays on guitar.  

Stapleton recalled the best concert he ever went to was the Eagles, Hell Freezes Over Tour. He saw it in Charleston, West Virginia with his brother and spent all the money he had at the time to get seats in the fourth row. For four hours they played all their solo music as well as The Eagles songs, so he got everything he wanted out of the show. He loves watching artist documentaries and is about halfway through The Beatles one right now, but he does not have anyone who is recording his life right now to use for a documentary one day. He likes to stay private and has no interest in having a documentary about his life.  

Looking back 20 years ago, he doesn’t feel like he had dreams that equal to where he is now. He tries to work very much in the space where doors are open for him. His goals were always to be a songwriter and keep that job and tour and not lose money. He never dreamed about doing an interview talking about being nominated for a bunch of awards, it just didn’t seem achievable or practical to him, and admitted they aren’t without a whole lot of luck.  

In 2015, after he performed “Tennessee Whiskey” with Justin Timberlake on the CMA Awards, his fame blew up and the next couple of weeks were crazy for him. He had a tour run on the west coast, and before that they had never really played out there before. He was playing places that held maybe 800 people and the venue was only half sold because people didn’t really know who he was. But then those shows started selling out and they needed to figure out the size of venues he could play in now. It still feels fleeting to him because his working musician mentality steps in. The sudden rise to mainstream popularity was exciting and exhausting for him, and still feels surreal.  

Tonight, the 58th ACM Awards will happen, and Stapleton has three nominations: Entertainer of the Year, Male Artist of the Year and Song of the Year for his hit song, “You Should Probably Leave.” You can watch the award show at 8pm ET on Amazon Prime!