Kenneth Arnold "Kenny" Chesney (born March 26, 1968) is an American country music singer, songwriter and record producer. He has recorded 20 albums, 14 of which have been certified Gold or higher by the RIAA. He has also produced more than 40 top 10 singles on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs and Country Airplay charts, 29 of which have reached number one on the charts. Most of these have also charted high within the top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100 chart, making him one of the few successful crossover country artists. He has sold over 30 million albums worldwide.
Chesney co-directed and produced a film for ESPN entitled The Boys of Fall. He has received six Academy of Country Music awards (including four consecutive Entertainer of the Year awards from 2005 to 2008), as well as six awards from the Country Music Association. 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 he received 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. He received his first guitar, "The Terminor", for Christmas and began teaching himself how to play it. Chesney studied advertising at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, where he was a member of the ETSU Bluegrass Program and the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity and graduated in 1990 In 1989, he recorded a self-released demo album at the 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 himself buy a new guitar. After graduation from East Tennessee State in 1990, 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 awardsSee also: Kenny Chesney discography
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.
In My Wildest Dreams (1994)
Chesney's first album, In My Wildest Dreams, was released on the independent Capricorn Records label in April 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 in Nashville later that year and moved to Atlanta.
All I Need to Know (1995)
Chesney then signed with BNA Records, and released his second album All I Need to Know in 1995. The album produced three singles. "Fall in Love" and the title track both reached the Top 10, while "Grandpa Told Me So" peaked at No. 23. That same year, Chesney co-wrote Confederate Railroad's single "When He Was My Age" from their album When and Where. Chesney utilized fiddle and steel instrumentation within this album in order to highlight the down-home sentiments and the unique Tennessee twinge in his voice. This album seemed to capture the traditional spirit that made country music popular.
Me and You (1996-97)
Chesney's second major-label album Me and You was released in 1996. Its lead-off single, "Back In My Arms Again", peaked just outside the Top 40 on the country charts, but the title track (which Chesney recorded on his previous album) and the single "When I Close My Eyes" (which was previously recorded by Keith Palmer on his 1991 debut album and then 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 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. Though Chesney's version was never released as a single, it has become a song regularly 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 (1997-98)
I Will Stand, Chesney's third album from BNA Records, followed in 1997. The first single from this is "She's Got It All". It became 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 10. In 1998, "That's Why I'm Here" went to No. 2 on Billboard on the country charts.
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 with "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 (2002-03)
The album No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems was released in 2002. Its lead-off single, "Young", peaked at No. 2, while the follower "The Good Stuff" spent seven weeks at No. 1 and became 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. CMT later recognized the video for the album's title track 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 (2004-05)
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, 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 Award from Country Music Television. This song, along with the album's fourth single "The Woman with You", entered the Top 5 both with a peak at No. 2. The fifth single "Anything But Mine" reached number one while the final single "Keg in the Closet" went to No. 6.
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 AMA's 2004 Artist of the Year award.
Be as You Are and The Road and the Radio (2005-06)
In January 2005, Chesney released the album Be as You Are (Songs from an Old Blue Chair), supporting it with his Somewhere in the Sun Tour. Be as You Are is composed mostly of ballads. The album reached the top of the mainstream of popular music as well as country charts. Although it qualified for platinum status, it seemed a lot less popular than his more traditional albums.
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 five 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 5. Chesney promotes his beliefs of perfection, as getting songs right in the studio, ultimately leads to performing it right on the road and on the radio.
Live: Live Those Songs Again (2006)
Live: Live Those Songs Again, Chesney's first live album was released on September 19, 2006 via BNA Records. This album includes live renditions of 15 songs, 11 of which were 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, although "Back Where I Come From" was released as a single from Mac McAnally's 1990 album Simple Life.
Chesney collaborated with one of his personal heroes, Jimmy Buffett, on a remake of Hank Williams' single "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 his album For the Love. The official single version, only featuring Lawrence's vocals, was released in August 2006 but did not reach the Top 40 on the country charts until January 2007, when 'the album was released. After the album's release, the version with him, Chesney, and McGraw 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.
With Neil Thrasher and Wendell Mobley, Chesney also co-wrote Rascal Flatts' 2007 single 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 Songs 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 (2007-08)
On September 11, 2007, Chesney released his album Just Who I Am: Poets & Pirates. This 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 the latter claiming he would end his solo rap career if West sold more albums than he did (remarks he later retracted as terms of his contract conflicted with the promise). Chesney, however, decided that 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 among the three musical artists.
The album's lead-off single, "Never Wanted Nothing More", became Chesney's 12th number one on the Billboard country charts. On the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs chart dated for the week ending on September 15, 2007, the second 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 this album, "Shiftwork", a duet with George Strait, peaked at No. 2 on the country charts. During the week of June 28, 2008, the fourth and final single, "Better as a Memory", became his 14th single to reach number one on 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 got caught between a hydraulic lift and the lip of the stage surface, which crushed his foot and produced a severe hematoma from the ankle down, with most of the damage centering within 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 singing.
Chesney didn't 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 that were taken afterwards revealed several crushed bones in his right foot.
That injury didn't have him cancel any shows, as 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 won it four times, that's the way I won it, that's the way Strait won it, Reba, Alabama all those years. That's what it's supposed to represent."
Lucky Old Sun (2008-09)
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)
In May 2009, Chesney released his second compilation album, Greatest Hits II. This album included the No. 1 hit, "Out Last Night", as the lead single. On May 19, 2010, this album was re-released with two new tracks "This Is Our Moment" and "Ain't Back Yet", with the latter becoming the album's third single in February 2010. Also included on this album is one that Willie Nelson recorded before Chesney did, "I'm Alive". Chesney himself later recorded a version of the song as a duet with Dave Matthews. This version was released in August 2009 as the album's second single.
Hemingway's Whiskey (2010-11)
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. Pirate Flag peaked at number 7 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart, May 25, 2013. The album's second single, "When I See This Bar", was released to country radio on June 10, 2013. When I see This Bar peaked at number 25 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart, September 14, 2013. This specific album was a drastic change from his regular country feel, to an all beach and island touch.
The Big Revival (2014)
In June 2014, Chesney released the new song "American Kids" to radio. This song served as the lead-off single from his fifteenth studio album The Big Revival, which was released on September 23, 2014. The album's second single, "Til It's Gone", was released in mid-October. It reached number one on the Country Airplay chart the week of January 31, 2015. The third single "Wild Child", which is a duet with Grace Potter, was released two days later. It reached number one on the Country Airplay chart the week of June 27, 2015. The album's fourth single, "Save It for a Rainy Day", was released to country radio on June 29, 2015. It reached number one on the Country Airplay chart the week of October 9, 2015.
On October 24, Chesney announced his 2015 tour The Big Revival Tour, which began on March 26, 2015. On October 27, he and Jason Aldean announced that they would perform 10 joint stadium shows in the summer of that year. Two days later, Brantley Gilbert announced that he would be opening for the Chesney/Aldean stadium shows, as well as five additional shows on Chesney's solo tour.
Cosmic Hallelujah (2016)
On March 7, 2016, Chesney announced that he was in the studio working on new music. The lead single to the album is titled "Noise", which was released to country radio on March 24, 2016. The album, Cosmic Hallelujah, was released on October 28. The second song in the album, "Setting the World on Fire", featuring singer P!NK was released to country radio on July 28, 2016.
No Shoes Nation
On August 25, 2013 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, Kenny Chesney announced to his fans that he would call his fan following No Shoes Nation. The term No Shoes Nation originated from Chesney's hit song, "No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problem." The symbol of No Shoes Nation is a black flag with a white skull and crossbones.
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, and 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." 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.
In 2015, Forbes estimated Chesney's annual income at $42 million.
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 and Neil Young 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.
Chesney has won the Billboard Touring Award for Top Package Tour five consecutive years between 2005 and 2009, and again in 2011
- 2001: Greatest Hits Tour (with Lee Ann Womack)
- 2002: No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems Tour (with Montgomery Gentry, Jamie O'Neal and Phil Vassar)
- 2003: Margaritas N' Senoritas Tour (with Deana Carter, Sara Evans, and Keith Urban)
- 2004: Guitars, Tiki Bars and a Whole Lotta Love Tour (with Rascal Flatts (select Dates), Dierks Bentley, and Keith Urban)
- 2005: Somewhere in the Sun Tour (with Gretchen Wilson, Uncle Kracker and Pat Green)
- 2006: The Road and The Radio Tour (with Dierks Bentley, Big & Rich, Carrie Underwood, and Gretchen Wilson)
- 2007: Flip-Flop Summer Tour (with Brooks & Dunn, Sugarland, Sara Evans, Pat Green, and Taylor Swift)
- 2008: The Poets and Pirates Tour (with Keith Urban, LeAnn Rimes, Gary Allan, Luke Bryan, and Sammy Hagar)
- 2009: Sun City Carnival Tour (with Miranda Lambert, Sugarland, Lady Antebellum, and Montgomery Gentry, and with Luke Bryan on the June 14 Chicago show)
- 2010: 2010 With a Two Tour
- 2011: Goin' Coastal Tour (with Zac Brown Band, Uncle Kracker, and Billy Currington)
- 2012: Brothers of the Sun Tour (with Tim McGraw, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, and Jake Owen)
- 2013: No Shoes Nation Tour (with Eric Church (stadiums only), Zac Brown Band (certain stadiums), Eli Young Band, and Kacey Musgraves)
- 2015: The Big Revival Tour (with Jason Aldean (select dates), Eric Church (select dates), Jake Owen, Cole Swindell, Miranda Lambert, Brantley Gilbert, Chase Rice, and Old Dominion)
- 2016: Spread the Love Tour (with Miranda Lambert, Old Dominion, and Sam Hunt)
DiscographyMain article: Kenny Chesney discography
- Studio albums
- 1994: In My Wildest Dreams
- 1995: All I Need to Know
- 1996: Me and You
- 1997: I Will Stand
- 1999: Everywhere We Go
- 2002: No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems
- 2004: When the Sun Goes Down
- 2005: Be as You Are (Songs from an Old Blue Chair)
- 2005: The Road and the Radio
- 2007: Just Who I Am: Poets & Pirates
- 2008: Lucky Old Sun
- 2010: Hemingway's Whiskey
- 2012: Welcome to the Fishbowl
- 2013: Life on a Rock
- 2014: The Big Revival
- 2016: Cosmic Hallelujah
- Compilation albums
- 2000: Greatest Hits
- 2008: Super Hits
- 2009: Greatest Hits II
- Christmas albums
- 2003: All I Want for Christmas Is a Real Good Tan
- Live albums
- 2006: Live: Live Those Songs Again
Kenny Chesney supports the following charitable causes: Children, Environment.