Chris Stapleton has been named the Academy of Country Music's Artist-Songwriter of the Decade. The singer-songwriter, who built a career as a buzzed-about writer in Nashville before becoming a star artist in his own right in the mid-2010s, is the first recipient of the new honor.

Stapleton received his ACM Artist-Songwriter of the Decade Award during a recent surprise presentation at Berry Hill Studios in Nashville, a press release reports. The honor recognizes "an artist who has commercially released material, written in whole or in part by the artist" and "a songwriter whose creative works and performance have impacted country music over the decade," taking into account radio success, sales numbers and artistic merit.

“Had Chris Stapleton not been an artist, his impact on country music as a songwriter would be indelible. Had he not been a songwriter for himself and others, his influence as a recording artist, performer and vocalist would have been just as undeniable," says ACM Special Awards Committee Co-Chair Kelly Rich. “In combination, however, Chris epitomizes the spirit and intent of this award. We are thrilled to recognize both aspects of his contribution to country music over the last decade."

Stapleton moved to Nashville in 2001 to become a songwriter. He has had more than 170 of his songs, including seven No. 1 songs, cut by both other artists and himself. His hits for other artists include Darius Rucker's "Come Back Song" and Luke Bryan's "Drink a Beer."

As an artist, Stapleton released his debut album, Traveller, in 2015. The project earned him critical success and awards show recognition, but his breakout moment came at the 2015 CMA Awards, when he and friend Justin Timberlake brought the house down during their collaborative performance.

Since then, Stapleton has released two additional albums -- 2017's From A Room, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 -- and won nine total ACM Awards (he's been nominated 25 times). At the 2016 ACM Awards, Stapleton tied the record for most ACM trophies won in a single night, taking home six of seven nominations. He shares the record with Garth Brooks and Faith Hill.

The ACM Decade Awards were created to honor outstanding accomplishments across the country music spectrum, selecting recipients from all aspects of the industry. Earlier in 2019, Jason Aldean was named the Dick Clark Artist of the Decade; more recently, Miranda Lambert and "The House that Built Me" songwriters Tom Douglas and Allen Shamblin were honored as the first recipients of the ACM Song of the Decade Award, while Rhett Akins was selected as the first ACM Songwriter of the Decade Award winner.

The Decade Awards will only be awarded once every 10 years. Recipients of other Decade Awards -- ACM Album of the Decade Award, ACM Breakout Artist of the Decade Award, ACM Single of the Decade Award and ACM Music Event of the Decade -- will be announced in the coming weeks.

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