Chris Stapleton was among the many artists who hit the stage to honor Vince Gill during a recent taping of a CMT Giants episode. The country superstar paid musical tribute to his friend and musical hero with a scorching performance of Gill's classic ballad, "Whenever You Come Around."

Stapleton prefaced his performance with an emotional speech in which he acknowledged he's generally a man of few words in public, adding that Gill's friendship and belief in him have been crucial in his own musical journey. The two men have been friends since long before Stapleton's rise to fame, and Gill was among his early champions in Nashville's music scene.

"I don't usually talk, but they asked me if I wanted to talk, and I said, 'Yeah, I want to talk, for just a minute," Stapleton states in the clip below.

Referring to an earlier speech from Gill about the courage it takes to pursue music, Stapleton tells him, "I moved here wanting to be you ... you've had the courage to encourage me, and you've always had time to come watch me play, or invite me on a songwriter round when I had no business being in it. And it really has made a difference ... I really, really appreciate that, Vince, and I love you from the bottom of my heart."

Stapleton then delivers a note-perfect performance of "Whenever You Come Around," which gave Gill a No. 2 hit when he released it as the lead single from his When Love Finds You album in 1994. Stapleton adheres closely to the spirit of the original recording in his performance, but the contrast between Gill's angelic soulfulness and Stapleton's bluesy grit imbues his rendition with an inherently edgier vibe than Gill's recording.

CMT Giants: Vince Gill taped at the Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Belmont University in Nashville on Sept. 12. The show is slated to air on CMT on Friday night (Sept. 16), beginning at 9PM ET. Brad Paisley, Carrie Underwood, Cody Johnson, Sting and more are among the other artists who turned up to honor Vince Gill.

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