I have written several articles about when artists return home to Kentucky, but in my lifetime, none will likely be bigger than Chris Stapleton playing Rupp Arena. As a fellow Eastern Kentuckian, Rupp Arena to us, is like the Ryman. It’s our Mother Church. It’s an arena named after Coach Adolph Rupp and is the home of our beloved Kentucky Wildcats in downtown Lexington. For a Kentucky artist, that was born in this city, to rise in popularity and be able to sell-out over 17,000 seats at Rupp Arena is unheard of. Unchartered territory, even.
The Kentucky Headhunters, Billy Ray Cyrus, The Backstreet Boys featured a couple Kentuckians, John Michael Montgomery and Montgomery Gentry had some great success. But Chris Stapleton is the only singular artist to have sold-out Rupp Arena as a headliner to be born in Lexington. At least to my knowledge.
One of the more fascinating things about Kentucky, is the fact that you know the sights or sounds of many fellow Kentuckians, but you often times don’t know their name or what they do. I bet I could name 25 musicians that are in popular acts and you would likely have no idea they were Kentuckians.
By now, you’ve heard the name Chris Stapleton. He is a fellow Kentuckian who has made his mark as a Kentucky, loud and proud. What you may not know, is that his bass player, J.T. Cure, is also a fellow Kentuckian. J.T. grew up in Elkhorn City and spent time as part of the Kentucky Opry at the Mountain Arts Center in Prestonsburg.
The Kentucky Opry also produced Rebecca Lynn Howard. She has had success as a solo artist and she is currently the bassist in the backing band for Steven Tyler, who you’ll know from Aerosmith fame.
While we’re on the subject, keep your eyes peeled for a young lady that’s currently a part of the Opry. Rachel Messer is from just across the river in West Virginia. She has a wonderful voice that reminds me of Dolly Parton.
J.T., Rebecca Lynn and Rachel are shining examples of how important the Kentucky Opry and the MAC are for all Kentuckians.