- Category : Singer - Popular
- Type : GE
- Profile : 3/5 - Martyr / Heretic
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Service 1
Kenneth Arnold "Kenny" Chesney (born March 26, 1968) is an American country music singer. Chesney has recorded 15 albums, 14 of which have been certified gold or higher by the RIAA. He has also produced more than 30 Top Ten singles on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs charts, 22 of which climbed to the top of the charts. Chesney has sold over 30 million albums worldwide.
Over the life of his career, Chesney has been honored with numerous awards from the Academy of Country Music (ACM), Country Music Association (CMA), American Music Awards (AMA), Country Music Television (CMT), Billboard Music Awards (BMA), People's Choice Awards (PCA).
Chesney produced and co-directed a film for ESPN, The Boys Of Fall. Chesney has received six Academy of Country Music awards (including four consecutive Entertainer of the Year awards from 2005 to 2008), as well as six Country Music Association awards. He is one of the most popular touring acts in country music, regularly selling out the venues in which he performs. His 2007 Flip-Flop Summer Tour was the highest-grossing country road trip of the year.
The Country Music Association honored Chesney with the Entertainer of the Year award in 2004, 2006, 2007, and 2008. Other notable awards include the Academy of Country Music's 1997 New Male Vocalist of the Year, 2002 Top Male Vocalist of the Year, and the Triple Crown Award in 2005. He was awarded his fourth consecutive Entertainer of the Year award from the Academy of Country Music on May 18, 2008.
Chesney was born on March 26, 1968, in Knoxville, Tennessee, at St. Mary's Medical Center and was raised in Luttrell, and is of English and Irish descent. He is the son of David Chesney, a former elementary school teacher, and Karen Chandler, a hair stylist in the Knoxville area. Chesney has one sibling, a younger sister named Jennifer Chandler. In 1986 Chesney graduated from Gibbs High School where he played baseball and football. Chesney received his first guitar, "The Terminor," for Christmas and began teaching himself to play. Chesney studied advertising at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, TN, where he was a member of the ETSU Bluegrass Program and the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity. In 1989 Chesney recorded a self-released demo album at Classic Recording Studio in Bristol, Virginia. He sold 1,000 copies while performing at the local clubs in Johnson City and used the money from album sales to help buy a new guitar. Chesney graduated from East Tennessee State in December 1990 with a degree in advertising. After graduation he headed to Nashville and performed at several local clubs. He became the resident performer at The Turf, a honky tonk bar in the city's historic district.
Career and awards
Signing first publishing and record deals
In 1992, the head of writer relations at BMI, Clay Bradley, recommended Chesney to his friend at Opryland Music Group, Troy Tomlinson, by saying: "I met this kid today from East Tennessee. He’s a good singer, a good songwriter, and more than anything, I think you’re going to really like him as a person.” For the audition for Tomlinson, Chesney performed five songs. Tomlinson's reaction was enthusiastic, later telling HitQuarters:
"First of all I was attracted to the songs, because I thought that he painted great pictures in his lyrics, particularly for someone who had not been around the typical Music Row co-writes. I thought that he sang very well too. But more than anything there was a kind of this ‘I-will-do-it’ look in his eyes - I was really drawn in by the fact that he was so set on being successful in this business."
Chesney left the audition with a songwriter’s contract. An appearance at a songwriter’s showcase the following year led to a contract with Capricorn Records which had recently started a country division. He released his debut album In My Wildest Dreams in April 1994. When Capricorn closed its country music division in Nashville and moved to Atlanta, Georgia, Chesney signed with BNA Records.
In My Wildest Dreams (1994)
Chesney's first album, In My Wildest Dreams, was released on the independent Capricorn Records label in 1994. The album's lead-off singles, "Whatever It Takes" and "The Tin Man", both reached the lower regions of the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks charts. The album sold approximately 10,000 copies before Capricorn Records closed its country music division later that year.
All I Need to Know (1995)
After Capricorn's closure, Chesney signed with BNA Records, which released his album All I Need to Know in 1995. The album produced three hit singles. "Fall in Love" and "All I Need to Know" both reached the Top Ten, while "Grandpa Told Me So" peaked at No. 23. Also in 1995, Chesney co-wrote Confederate Railroad's single "When He Was My Age", from their album When and Where.
Me and You (1996-1997)
Released in 1996, Chesney's second major-label album was Me and You. Although its lead-off single peaked just outside the Top 40 on the country charts, the album's title track (which was reprised from All I Need to Know) and the single "When I Close My Eyes" (which was previously recorded by Larry Stewart on his 1993 debut album Down the Road) both peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard country charts. Me and You was also Chesney's first gold-certified album. A cover of Mac McAnally's 1990 single "Back Where I Come From" was also included on this album. Although Chesney's version was never released as a single, it has become a regular song played during his concerts. In recognition of his successful year, Chesney was honored with the 1997 Academy of Country Music's New Male Vocalist of the Year award.
I Will Stand (1997-1998)
I Will Stand, Chesney's third album for BNA, was released in 1997. "She's Got It All" was the album's lead-off single, becoming Chesney's first No. 1 single, spending three weeks at the top of the Billboard country charts. The album's second single, "A Chance", peaked just shy of the Top Ten. In 1998, "That's Why I'm Here" went to No. 2 on Billboard and reached the top of the charts on Radio & Records, giving Chesney his third No. 1 single overall.
Everywhere We Go (1999)
Everywhere We Go, released in 1999, was Chesney's fourth album for BNA. The album produced two consecutive No. 1 singles in "How Forever Feels" and "You Had Me from Hello" (the latter inspired by a line in the movie Jerry Maguire). The album also produced two more hits, including "She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy" and "What I Need to Do", which peaked at No. 11 and No. 8 on the country charts, respectively. Everywhere We Go was Chesney's first platinum-selling album.
Greatest Hits (2000)
By 2000, Chesney released his Greatest Hits compilation album. It included four new tracks, as well as updated versions of "Fall in Love", "The Tin Man", and "Back Where I Come From". The new version of "The Tin Man" was one of the disc's three singles, along with two of the new tracks, "I Lost It" and "Don't Happen Twice".
No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems (2002-2003)
The album No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems was released in 2002. The lead-off single, "Young", peaked at No. 2, while the follow-up "The Good Stuff" spent seven weeks at No. 1, becoming Billboard's No. 1 country song of the year for 2002. The video for "Young" was honored by CMT with the Video of the Year and Male Video of the Year awards for 2002. In 2003, ACM honored Chesney as Top Male Vocalist of the Year, while "The Good Stuff" received the award for Single Record of the Year. The following year, CMT recognized the video produced for "No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems" as the Hottest Video of the Year.
All I Want for Christmas Is a Real Good Tan (2003)
In 2003, Chesney recorded All I Want for Christmas Is a Real Good Tan. The album's title track peaked at No. 30 on the country charts from holiday airplay.
When the Sun Goes Down (2004-2005)
2004 saw the release of Chesney's album When the Sun Goes Down. Its lead-off single, "There Goes My Life", spent seven weeks at the top of the Billboard country charts. On April 21, 2004, the accompanying video was honored by CMT with the Male Video of the Year award. The album's title track, "When the Sun Goes Down", a duet with Uncle Kracker, was also a No. 1 single. The video from the third single from the album, "I Go Back", was honored on April 11, 2005, with the Male Video of the Year by Country Music Television.
When the Sun Goes Down was honored with the 2004 CMA award for Album of the Year, while Chesney was honored as the Entertainer of the Year. He was also presented with the American Music Award's 2004 Artist of the Year award.
Be as You Are and The Road and the Radio (2005-2006)
In January 2005, Chesney released the album Be as You Are (Songs from an Old Blue Chair), supporting the album with his Somewhere in the Sun Tour.
In the spring of 2005, Chesney was honored with the prestigious Triple-Crown Award presented by the Academy of Country Music. This award was presented after Chesney's 2004 Academy of Country Music's Entertainer of the Year award was combined with 1997's New Male Vocalist of the Year award and 2003's Top Male Vocalist of the Year award. The following year, on May 23, 2006, Chesney was honored with his second Entertainer of the Year at the Academy of Country Music Awards.
Chesney released his second album of the year in November, The Road and the Radio, producing three No. 1 singles. "Living in Fast Forward", "Summertime", and "Beer in Mexico" all hit No. 1, while "Who You'd Be Today" and "You Save Me" broke the Top Five.
Live: Live Those Songs Again (2006)
Live: Live Those Songs Again is Chesney's first live album. Released on September 19, 2006 on BNA Records, the album includes live renditions of 15 songs, including 11 singles. "Live Those Songs", "Never Gonna Feel Like That Again", "On the Coast of Somewhere Beautiful", and "Back Where I Come From" were never released by Chesney as singles, while "Back Where I Come From" had been released as a single from Mac McAnally's 1990 album Simple Life.
Kenny collaborated with one of his personal heroes, Jimmy Buffett, on a remake of Hank Williams' " Hey Good Lookin' (with Clint Black, Alan Jackson, Toby Keith and George Strait), and a second song,"License To Chill ". Both songs are on Buffett's 2004 album, "License To Chill".
Chesney, along with Tim McGraw, contributed to a version of Tracy Lawrence's single "Find Out Who Your Friends Are", which can be found on Lawrence's album For the Love. The official single version, featuring only Lawrence's vocals, was released in August 2006, but did not reach the Top 40 on the country charts until January 2007, when For the Love was released. After the album's release, the version with McGraw and Chesney began receiving significant airplay, helping to boost the single to No. 1 on the country charts. The song became Lawrence's first No. 1 single in 11 years, as well as the second-slowest climbing No. 1 single in the history of the Billboard music charts.
Chesney also co-wrote Rascal Flatts' 2007 single along with Neil Thrasher and Wendell Mobley, "Take Me There", which served as the lead-off single to their album Still Feels Good.
Chesney also recorded a duet with Reba McEntire on her No. 1 2007 album, Reba: Duets. "Every Other Weekend" peaked at No. 15 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart and No. 104 on the Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart. The album has sold 2.1 million copies world-wide and is certified Platinum by the RIAA for sales of over 1 million. "Every Other Weekend" was the final single from the album.
Super Hits (2007)
On November 7, 2007, Chesney was named the CMA Entertainer of the Year for the third time in four years. The following week, on November 15, 2007, the compilation Super Hits album was released as part of Sony BMG's Super Hits series.
Just Who I Am: Poets & Pirates (2007-2008)
On September 11, 2007, Chesney released the album Just Who I Am: Poets & Pirates. The album represented a move to a more gulf and western sound with a number of "breezy, steel-drum island songs." Kanye West's album Graduation, as well as 50 Cent's album Curtis, were released on the same day. Kanye West and 50 Cent were in the midst of a competitive sales war, with 50 Cent claiming he would end his solo rap career if West sold more albums than he did (remarks he later retracted as terms with of contract conflicted with the promise). Kenny Chesney, however, decided he would give country music a place in the competition, claiming country artists were just as popular as rap artists. Chesney came in third place in the number of record sales between the three musical artists.
The album's lead-off single, "Never Wanted Nothing More", became Chesney's 12th song to hit the top of the Billboard country charts. On the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs chart dated for the week ending September 15, 2007, Chesney's single "Don't Blink" debuted at No. 16, setting a new record for the highest debut on that chart since the inception of SoundScan electronic tabulation in 1990. This record was broken one week later by Garth Brooks' song "More Than a Memory", which debuted at No. 1 on the same chart, making it the first song ever to do so. The third single from Just Who I Am album, "Shiftwork", a duet with George Strait peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard country chart. During the week of June 28, 2008, the fourth single, "Better as a Memory", became Chesney's 14th single to hit the top of the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.
Chesney started his Poets and Pirates Tour on April 26, 2008 at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina. During the introduction of his set, his boot was caught between a hydraulic lift and the lip of the stage surface, crushing his foot and causing a severe hematoma from the ankle down, with most of the damage centering in his toes. It took approximately 30 seconds to pry his foot loose as he squatted down on the stage while the band continued to play an extended introduction of the song. When Chesney finally freed himself, he stood up and kept holding his hand on his knee as he began to sing.
Chesney did not acknowledge the injury during the early part of his performance. However, he was visibly limping and seemed to rest near a drum riser while leaning over and holding his knee during the instrumental breaks of his hit songs. As he came offstage, a doctor from the University of South Carolina cut off Chesney’s cowboy boot and immediately began treating the foot injury. X-rays taken later revealed several crushed bones in his right foot.
The injury did not cause him to postpone any shows, saying "He (the doctor) told me it's going to hurt – though nothing could hurt worse than Saturday, I don't think – and they can give me something to deaden the pain when I get out there. I also have to have a doctor standing by should something give, but I'm going to tape it up, and I'm going to get out there."
On May 19, 2008, just a day after being honored as the ACM Entertainer of the Year at the 43rd Annual Academy of Country Music Awards, Chesney criticized the lack of choice in the producers' awarding the honor based on fan votes. "The entertainer of the year trophy is supposed to represent heart and passion and an amazing amount of sacrifice, commitment and focus," he said. "That's the way Garth [Brooks] won it four times, that's the way I won it, that's the way [George] Strait won it, Reba [McEntire], Alabama all those years. That's what it's supposed to represent."
Lucky Old Sun (2008-2009)
On July 24, 2008, Chesney announced that he would be releasing a new single from an upcoming album entitled Lucky Old Sun. The song was titled "Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven", and for the chart week of August 16, 2008, it debuted at No. 22 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. The album was released on October 14, 2008. "Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven" became a No. 1 hit. It was followed by a cover of Mac McAnally's 1990 single "Down the Road".
Chesney's 2009 tour was titled the Sun City Carnival Tour and featured both small and large venues in order to keep his ticket prices down. The tour included a performance at Gillette Stadium again, marking the fifth year in a row that he played at the Foxboro, Massachusetts football field.
Greatest Hits II (2010)
On May 19, 2010, Greatest Hits II was released with two new tracks. In February, "Ain't Back Yet" was sent to country music radio stations. The No. 1 hit "Out Last Night" was the lead single.
Hemingway's Whiskey (2010-2011)
In July 2010, Chesney released "The Boys of Fall" as the lead-off single from his album Hemingway's Whiskey, which was released in September 2010. The song hit No. 1 on the Hot Country Songs chart for the week of October 9, 2010, marking Chesney's eighteenth number one hit.
He then appeared at the 44th Annual Country Music Awards on November 10, 2010.
The second single from Hemingway's Whiskey, "Somewhere with You", was released in November 2010. The song debuted at No. 35 on the country chart for the week of November 6, 2010. Both it and its followup, "Live a Little", went to number 1 on the country charts. The next single was "You and Tequila", co-written and originally recorded by Deana Carter. Chesney's rendition, which featured Grace Potter on backing vocals, went to number 3. After it, "Reality" also went to number 1.
Chesney produced and narrated a biographical film, The Color Orange, on his favorite football player growing up, University of Tennessee quarterback and Canadian Football League hall-of-fame Condredge Holloway. The film was produced for ESPN's "Year of the Quarterback" series, and premiered on February 20, 2011.
Welcome to the Fishbowl (2012)
Chesney released his thirteenth studio album, Welcome to the Fishbowl, on June 19, 2012. Its lead-off single, a Tim McGraw duet titled "Feel Like a Rock Star", debuted at number 13 on the country charts, making it the second-highest debuting country song since the Billboard charts were first tabulated via Nielsen SoundScan, and the highest-debuting duet on that chart. Despite its high debut, the song peaked at number 11 only six weeks later before falling.
BNA Records closed in June 2012. As a result, Chesney was transferred to Columbia Nashville. His first release under Columbia was the album's second single, "Come Over", which went to number 1. The album's third and final single was "El Cerrito Place", which was written by Keith Gattis and originally recorded by Charlie Robison. Chesney's rendition, which featured Grace Potter on backing vocals, went to number 10 on the country charts.
Life on a Rock (2013)
Chesney released his fourteenth studio album, Life on a Rock, on April 30, 2013. The first single from the album, "Pirate Flag", was released to iTunes on February 5, 2013 and peaked at number 3 on the Country Airplay chart in May 2013. The album's second single, "When I See This Bar", was released to country radio on June 10, 2013.
Chesney owns a 60' Sea Ray yacht and has a home in the U.S. Virgin Islands. He also spends time in the Caribbean and includes island-themed songs in some of his work, such as those on his 2005 album Be As You Are.
On May 9, 2005, Chesney married actress Renée Zellweger in a ceremony on the island of St. John. They had met in January at a tsunami relief event. On September 15 of that same year, after only four months of marriage, they announced their plans for an annulment. Zellweger cited fraud as the reason in the related papers, leading to rumors that Chesney might be homosexual. After media scrutiny of her use of the word "fraud", she qualified the use of the term, stating that it was "simply legal language and not a reflection of Kenny's character" while Chesney denied the rumors, saying that he is straight. Chesney later suggested the failure of his marriage was due to "panic" from the intense media scrutiny surrounding it. In an interview by 60 Minutes with Anderson Cooper, Chesney commented on the failed marriage. "The only fraud that was committed was me thinking that I knew what it was like…that I really understood what it was like to be married, and I really didn't." The annulment was finalized in late December 2005. Chesney's family still resides in east Tennessee.
Chesney's most recent charity work includes working with the V Foundation, founded by North Carolina State Wolfpack basketball coach Jim Valvano to help to find a cure for cancer.
In 1998, Chesney recorded a limited-edition single titled "Touchdown Tennessee". The single was a tribute to John Ward, a former broadcaster for the University of Tennessee Volunteers' football team; St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and the John Ward Scholarship Fund.
Chesney is a regular performer at Farm Aid, the organization founded by Willie Nelson, Neil Young and John Mellencamp to keep family farms from foreclosure. Chesney performed at Farm Aid in 2005, 2008, 2010 and 2012. Like all Farm Aid artists, he donates his talent, time and travel expenses for the cause.