Keith Urban and Chris Stapleton are both esteemed Country Music giants, and both share combined and distinctive throngs of fans. Keith Urban’s Australian birth could not detract from his bond to the music that his father listened to every night. The old classics of Hank Williams, Merle Haggard, and Don Williams at times became a singular commonality between father and son, as the prodigy fused country into his own blazing translations on guitar. Chris Stapleton's Kentucky roots come through in his twang and the imagery of his lonesome ballads. The locales are different, but the love and respect for the roots of country music echo from the souls of both these gifted artists, and it comes as no surprise that both have made news lately for bringing people together under the healing awning of a song.

Spirit surges

Chris Stapleton spoke of the power of “spirits together” being stronger than anything coming against the determination of that unity at the CMT Artists of the Year awards on Wednesday. The night was a somber occasion, aimed to uplift and to honor, as tributes to the 58 slain in Las Vegas were paid, along with homage to Tom Petty and Glen Campbell, and others passing away in the past year. Acceptance of awards and the accompanying speeches were foregone in lieu of lifting up the true heroes who helped and saved lives in big and small ways.

Stapleton asserted that it was “a celebration of incredible human spirit,” and that sentiment was never lost through the evening. Urban reiterated that the entire night was a “thank you,” with the aim to “lift your spirits for just a moment.”

The examples of hope and serving hurting hearts through music have been on prominent display through recent months, and these two men have been premier ambassadors.

Words and music

Keith Urban is revered for his shredding innovation on guitar, but that respect was overshadowed by the sentiment and sincerity of his offerings at the Nashville services honoring the Las Vegas shooting victims, and his words that beyond everything, “country music is family.” He has been named as guest speaker for the SXSW 2018 Festival, and his calming presence in these troubled times is certain to gain as much acclaim as his ax-plucking skills.

Chris Stapleton is riding a wave of early support for the 2017 honor of Male Vocalist of the Year at the CMA awards. Some might regard his 2015 sweep after the release of “Traveller” to be a once-in-a-lifetime occasion, and the night certainly served as proof that the songwriter so respected by other artists had earned his time under this stage lights alongside wife, Morgane.

His “From a Room: Vol. 1” has remained a stalwart in music collections across genres for the year, like a favorite pair of boots. It's not just “Broken Halos” that has brought solace, but the interpretation and nuance that displays itself in “Second One to Know,” or the belting, bluesy “I Was Wrong,” that show Stapleton’s massive, multi-genre skills with his own songs and those of masters like Willie Nelson. His voice carries the dust and the last drop from the bottle of every bar room that he ever played before his star rose to recognition, and grace and grit sing together. A second collection in the “From a Room” releases December 1.

Country music fans have seen a lot of Chris Stapleton and Keith Urban for all the right reasons through these past traumatic months, and may both artists mind the flame of all that's good about country music for decades to come.