Chris Stapleton, Vince Gill; Photo Courtesy of Getty Images for CMT
Chris Stapleton, Vince Gill; Photo Courtesy of Getty Images for CMT

WATCH: Chris Stapleton Earns Standing Ovation & Thumbs Up From Vince Gill After ‘CMT Giants’ Tribute Performance

Chris Stapleton honored Vince Gill with a tribute performance during the CMT Giants special, which was taped on Monday (Sept. 12) at The Fisher Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.

The country superstar performed a cover of “Whenever You Come Around,” a track co-written by Gill alongside Pete Wasner that appears on Gill’s sixth studio album, When Love Finds You.

Upon taking the stage, Stapleton shared a heartfelt message about how Gill inspired him to pursue a career in Country music.

“I don’t usually talk, but they asked me if I wanted to talk and I said ‘yeah, I wanted to talk for just a minute.’” Stapleton said. ”We talked earlier on a segment about having courage to start writing songs and the courage to be an artist and all those kinds of things, but I think the greatest impact that you’ve had on me was the obvious things of your music.”

He continued, ”I moved here wanting to be you. You had the courage to encourage me and you always had time to come watch me play or invite me on a songwriter’s round when I had no business being in it and it really made a difference. It really made a difference for me and I really, really appreciate that man and I love you from the bottom of my heart.”

As Gill watched from the audience, Stapleton delivered an impressive rendition of the tune while strumming his acoustic guitar.

At the conclusion of his performance, Stapleton tipped his hat to Gill as he offered him a thumbs up and a standing ovation.

Ahead of the performance, Stapleton shared why he chose the song and what it means to him.

“I’ve always loved it, I’ve always loved to sing it. I used to sing it in bars when nobody was listening and I’ve always loved it,” Stapleton shared. ”It’s just one of my favorites… just a beautiful, beautiful melody and a beautifully written song and very to the point and makes you feel something and that’s the mark of a really great song, I think.”

CMT Giants: Vince Gill premieres on Friday, September 16 at 9p/8c. The two-hour event will feature performances by Brad Paisley, Carrie Underwood, Cody Johnson, Luke Combs, Maren Morris, Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, Sting, Wendy Moten, and Gill himself.

Presenters include Corrina Grant Gill, Emmylou Harris, Jenny Gill, Keith Urban, Keb’ Mo’, Reba McEntire, Rodney Crowell, and Sheryl Crow.

The show will include performance and interview footage from the vault as well as a brand-new sit-down interview with Gill as he reflects on his career, his musical influences and what’s next for him.

Following the initial premiere, the show will have an immediate encore at 11p/10c and on Sunday, September 18th at 11a/10c.

Launched in 2006, CMT Giants has previously featured Alan Jackson, Darius Rucker, Dolly Parton, Faith Hill, Garth Brooks, Kelly Clarkson, Luke Combs, Rascal Flatts, Taylor Swift, Tim McGraw, Toby Keith, and Wynonna, just to name a few.

Vince Gill recently celebrated the 30th Anniversary of his debut album, I Still Believe In You. The iconic release features five singles, four of which topped the charts, including “I Still Believe In You,” “No Future In The Past,” as well as “Tryin’ To Get Over You,” and “One More Last Chance.” The fifth single, “Don’t Let Our Love Start Slippin’ Away,” peaked at No.2 on the charts. The album has been certified five times platinum.

The album was released in September 1992. The following year, at the 1993 CMA Awards Gill took home Album of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year, Song of the Year and Entertainer of the Year.

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