Why Was Chris Stapleton Singing at Tyler Perry’s Madea Play?

Jon Freeman

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On Friday, Chris Stapleton gave a performance in Nashville that received a whole arena’s worth of hallelujers. The singer was in attendance at Tyler Perry’s Madea Farewell Tour stop in Nashville when he surprised the crowd by standing up and giving a brief rendition of his signature song “Tennessee Whiskey.”

Perry’s play, which was the first ever staged at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, centers on his popular character Madea, a no-nonsense, elderly African-American woman whom Perry has portrayed in several movies since the early 2000s. Perry announced in 2018 that he would be retiring the character after one more film — 2019’s A Madea Family Funeral — and the Farewell Tour. The trek wrapped in Augusta, Georgia, on February 16th.

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In a fan-filmed video, “Tennessee Whiskey” — which rocketed Stapleton to instant fame after an epic performance with Justin Timberlake at the 2015 CMA Awards — is already playing as he rises from his seat with microphone in hand. Uncertain what’s happening at first, the audience erupts in screams and applause as soon as he hits the opening notes and, by the end, seemingly the entire arena is giving a rapturous singalong. Stapleton hasn’t commented on why he was there — are he are Perry friends? What’s his favorite Madea movie? — but Perry indicated that the country star was an invited guest.

“Madea could not come to the end of the farewell tour and have @chrisstapleton in the audience in Nashville, Tennessee and not have him sing a verse of Tennessee Whiskey! And he KILLED IT!!” Perry wrote on Instagram, along with video.

Stapleton will be singing “Tennessee Whiskey” many, many more times in 2020, as his All-American Road Show Tour gets underway March 11th and features a rotating cast of supporting artists including Jamey Johnson, Yola, Dwight Yoakam, and Marcus King Band.

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