The CMT Music Awards are taking place in Nashville and the event is highlighting some of Music City’s greatest talent and locations with live performances.
In an unexpected and unannounced performance, Chris Stapleton and his wife took the stage at Great Stage Park, the location for the Bonnaroo Music Festival, in Manchester, Tennessee. Stapleton, who is teaming up with solo act H.E.R. later in the night surprised fans with his performance of “Arkansas,” an iconic road trip anthem from his Starting Over album.
The song was co-written by legendary guitarist Mike Campbell of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and was inspired by a road trip Stapleton took with his wife, Morgane.
“It wasn’t that long ago that I had a birthday, and I happen to like fast cars,” Stapleton said. “So my wife bought me a fast car, but the fast car was in Oklahoma City, so me and JT back there on the bass got dropped off in Oklahoma City and we drove like a bat out of hell through the Ozark Mountains all the way to Nashville, Tennessee, and that’s what this song is all about.”
The lyrics highlight several Arkansas landmarks including the Ozark Mountains, the White River, Fayetteville, and Little Rock, contains a reference to “calling the Hogs,” and makes a reference to a pit stop in Little Rock for some barbecue.
Watch Chris Stapleton perform “Arkansas” from the CMT Music Awards in the video below.