When Memphis native Justin Timberlake pulled in Chris Stapleton for a collaboration on his recent record Man of the Woods, country and pop fans were surprised to see the unlikely pair working on a track together. But when their single “Say Something” was released in January, complete with an incredible music video, it all made sense. Timberlake’s emotive pop mixes beautifully with Stapleton’s soulful, raspy vocals.
The truth is that Timberlake and Stapleton, both residing in Music City, have been friends for a while, and their chemistry is clear in live performances. Viewers were blown away when the two performed the George Jones track “Tennessee Whiskey” and Timberlake’s “Drink You Away” at the 2015 CMA Awards, giving Stapleton’s career a big boost. And earlier this year, Stapleton joined Timberlake, along with his backing band the Tennessee Kids, on stage during the Nashville stop on his Man of the Woods tour. The two sang “Say Something” followed by “Tennessee Whiskey” to the elated crowd who also got to see the two banter a bit and show that they’re true fans of one another.
So could new JT and Chris Stapleton music be on the way? Billboard caught up with Stapleton before he performed at the Nissan Coliseum for CMA Fest following the CMT Music Awards. He said that he and Timberlake “were talking about something earlier today. We just have fun.” He continued, “It looks like the odd couple to most people, but we have a lot of the same musical influences — old R&B and soul music and things like that. We just enjoy hanging out.”
The structure of a complete album doesn’t seem to be in the works, but Stapleton reassures fans that “there will probably always be music being made, whether it’s writing or talking about music or playing music for each other… We’re both at a phase in our life where we want to have fun playing music. That’s why it makes sense.”