Skip to main content
Select Source:

Chesney, Kenny

Kenny Chesney

Singer, songwriter, guitarist

Blessed with a voice that sounds older than his years, Kenny Chesney is a country vocalist in the hard-core country style. Heavily influenced by such classical stylists as Merle Haggard and George "the Possum" Jones, he has also drawn on the country rock of Charlie Daniels and his band. Through Chesney's talent and his dogged persistence in the face of a first recording contract that didn't pan out, the singles off his more recent albums for BNA have consistently charted in the top ten. "I want a 20-year career, not just a few records that go gold and then are gone," Chesney told Michael A. Capozzoli Jr. in Country Weekly. Since the singer/songwriter first hit the streets of Nashville in 1991, he has shown that he has what it takes to make that wish a reality.

Chesney was born March 26, 1968, in Lutrelle, a small town near Knoxville, Tennessee, that is famous as the birthplace of guitar virtuoso Chet Atkins. As a boy he listened to country and bluegrass music along with his friends, but his own dreams were of becoming a star athlete—maybe a baseball player—rather than a country singer. By the time he reached high school, his family had moved to Knoxville, and Chesney became serious about football. He also had his first flirtation with music: he and a friend joined the local choir and were inspired by the choir director's enthusiasm for melody and vocal harmony.

In 1986, after graduating from high school, Chesney enrolled at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, where he decided to pursue a degree in business. Then, on Christmas Day of his sophomore year, he received a guitar as a gift. With his earlier enthusiasm for music renewed, Chesney learned enough chords to work out the Eagles' "Tequila Sunrise." "I wasn't sure what I wanted to do," the singer told Linda Burchfield in Country Song Roundup. "Until I got my first guitar, and then I was hooked." Pretty soon he was entertaining his friends with his singing and was writing his own songs as well. Encouraged by his roommates, he got a gig at a small restaurant near campus, but was disappointed by the lack of response from the restaurant's rowdy Saturday night student crowd. However, Chesney didn't give up; he continued to play at small restaurants and clubs near campus. Eventually he rented some studio time at Classic Recording in Bristol, Virginia, and laid down an album's worth of self-penned tracks. Sales of tapes at his shows were so successful that Chesney was soon able to buy himself a brand-new Martin guitar with the profits.

Chesney's fan following expanded as he moved further from his base on campus and began playing venues in Virginia and the Carolinas. Even though the music bug had bitten hard, he fought the urge to quit school and move to Nashville. After graduating from East Tennessee State with a degree in advertising and marketing in December of 1991, however, he wasted no time in pulling up stakes and moving to the Music City to become a songwriter. Playing clubs at night and parking cars by day, Chesney kept the bills paid while doing his homework on the country music industry. "I read every book about the music business that I could get my hands on," he told Burchfield. "Then I just picked up the phone and called [BMI publishing executive] Clay Bradley." Bradley helped the young newcomer get a songwriter's contract with Acuff/Rose Publishing in 1992.

After an appearance at a local songwriters' showcase in 1993, Chesney landed a recording contract with Capricorn Records' new country division, and released his critically acclaimed debut album, In My Wildest Dreams. The 1994 album featured Chesney's first recording of "The Tin Man," which made it to number 70 on the charts. Unfortunately for the young artist, Capricorn disbanded its country division shortly thereafter, leaving Chesney with a record but no promotional help. By that time, however, his talents as a songwriter and vocalist were well known in town, and BNA was waiting in the wings. That label, which signed Chesney in 1995, also purchased the master disks to In My Wildest Dreams. Chesney's first album with BNA, All I Need To Know, would feature a reprise of "The Tin Man" as its first single.

All I Need to Know, produced by Barry Beckett, showcased Chesney the traditionalist, backed by fiddles, steel, and a lot of country flavor. The vocalist sounded as much at home on such emotion-filled love songs as the title track "Fall in Love" and "Honey Would You Stand by Me," as he did on ballads like "The Tin Man" and "Grandpa Told Me So." One of the recording's highlights was "Between Midnight and Daylight," a honky tonk's "last call" before closing down the bar. Taken as a whole, All I Need To Know, on which Chesney co-wrote four songs, reflected the artist's traditional sensibilities and would result in Chesney's first two top ten hits: "Me and You" and "When I Close My Eyes."

Since his first album was released, Chesney has spent most of his time on the road, touring with artists like Aaron Tippin, Confederate Railroad, Jones, Trisha Yearwood, Clay Walker, and Patty Loveless, and otherwise promoting his work. In addition to his own songs he has covered hits by Keith Whitley, Jones, and Haggard in his stage show—in fact, the singer's all-time favorite song is Haggard's "That's the Way Love Goes." Chesney's favorite venues are fairs, festivals, and roomy honky tonks, where he can perform a show of more than two hours and pull out all the stops.

Me and You, released by BNA in 1996, was a more pulled-together effort than its predecessors, but remained solidly in the country camp. It was also Chesney's first gold album. The album's first single, "Back in My Arms Again," quickly climbed the charts, and "When I Close My Eyes" made it all the way to the number one spot. In addition to releasing Me and You, Chesney continued to tour with Alabama, with whom he had been opening to crowds of 15,000 fans a night since 1994. With that kind of exposure, sales of his third album continued to rise.

For the Record …

Born on March 26, 1968, in Lutrelle, TN; married Renee Zellweger (an actress), 2005. Education: Eastern Tennessee State University, B.S. in marketing, 1991.

Began performing in small clubs, Johnson City, TN, 1987; moved to Nashville, 1991; signed with Acuff/Rose, 1992; signed with Capricorn, 1993; released debut album In My Wildest Dreams, 1994; signed with BNA, 1995; released holiday album All I Want for Christmas Is a Real Good Tan, 2003; performed at presidential inauguration, 2005.

Awards: Country Music Television Flame Worthy Awards, Male Video of the Year for "There Goes My Life," and Hottest Video of the Year for "No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems," 2004; Country Music Association Awards, Album of the Year for When the Sun Goes Down, and Entertainer of the Year, both 2004; American Music Award, T-Mobile Text-In Award, 2004; Country Music Awards, Entertainer of the Year, 2005.

Addresses: Record company—BNA Entertainment, 1 Music Circle North, Nashville, TN 37203-4310. Website—Kenny Chesney Official Website: http://www.kennychesney.com.

Chesney co-wrote three of the eleven tracks on 1997's I Will Stand, which was fronted by the single "She's Got It All." "I went through a lot of stressful nights, wondering which songs to keep and which to let go, because this is a very pivotal album for me," Chesney told Deborah Evans Price of Billboard, about his third BNA effort. He explained his personal songwriting goals to interviewer Dixie Weathersby in Close Up: "As a songwriter and an artist, I want to try to make somebody laugh, I want to try to make somebody cry, I want to try to make somebody remember their first girlfriend or their first kiss. You want to try to make them miss somebody or want something." In addition to pulling emotions from his listeners, Chesney also wanted to cut a tune or two that was hard-core country, regardless of whether country radio played it or not. "Hillbilly Heaven with Their Honky Tonk Hell" was that song, which featured backup vocals by fellow Young Country artist Tracy Lawrence and by "The Possum" himself, who Chesney maintained is "the best country singer there ever was." Of additional interest on the album is an acoustic version of Chesney's hit "When I Close My Eyes," which he performed live for several years prior to recording it.

Rather than try to make a big splash, Chesney has remained conservative in planning his career. "I am glad I have taken really small steps," he told Weathersby. "I have learned something in every step that helped me get to the next one.… Shoot, if I get to do this for 20 more years, and I am still taking these small steps, then that is what I'm going to do because I love country music."

Chesney's conservative approach changed quickly, however, with the release of Everywhere We Go in 1999. The album sold over two million copies, and two singles, "You Had Me From Hello" and "How Forever Feels," reached number one. Another single from the album, "She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy," reached number two on the charts. The following year Chesney released his first Greatest Hits collection, which included two new songs, "I Lost It" (number three) and "Don't Happen Twice" (number one). Greatest Hits reached number one on the album chart, and like Everywhere We Go, was awarded platinum status. While impressive, Chesney's chart success and album sales were just warmups for the release of the commercially and critically acclaimed No Shirt, No Shoes, No Problem in 2002. The album reached number one and included four top ten singles.

In 2003 Chesney recorded his first holiday album, All I Want for Christmas Is a Real Good Tan. "The sunny south of the border vibe that lit up the video for No Shirt's title cut," wrote Johnny Loftus in All Music Guide, "is alive and well on All I Want for Christmas Is a Real Good Tan." The year 2004 would prove yet another banner year for Chesney, with the release of the chart topping When the Sun Goes Down. The recording was named Album of the Year by the Country Music Association, and Chesney was named Entertainer of the Year. In January of 2005 Chesney performed at the Celebration of Freedom Concert at President Bush's second inauguration, an event designed to pay tribute to the United States' military personnel. Early in 2005 Chesney released Be As You Are (Songs from an Old Blue Chair), his ninth full-length album. He also shocked fans with a sudden wedding to Academy Award-winning actress Renee Zellweger in May of 2005. The couple had met earlier that year.

Selected discography

In My Wildest Dreams, Capricorn, 1994.

All I Need to Know, BNA, 1995.

Me and You, BNA, 1996.

Everywhere We Go, BNA, 1999.

No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problem, BNA, 2002.

All I Want for Christmas Is a Real Good Tan, BNA, 2003.

When the Sun Goes Down, BNA, 2004.

Be as You Are (Songs from an Old Blue Chair), BNA, 2005.

Sources

Periodicals

Billboard, April 12, 1997; June 14, 1997.

Close Up, March 1997.

Country Song Roundup, December 1995; October 1996; December 1996.

Country Weekly, April 29, 1997.

Entertainment Weekly, May 17, 2002; January 28, 2005.

People, May 23, 2005; July 4, 2005.

Online

"Country Music honors Chesney, others," CNN.com, http://www.cnn.com/2005/SHOWBIZ/Music/05/18/music.countryawards.ap/index.html (May 18, 2005).

"Kenny Chesney," All Music Guide,http://www.allmusic.com/ (March 10, 2005).

Additional information for this profile was provided by BNA Entertainment.

PamelaSheltonand

RonnieD.LankfordJr.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Chesney, Kenny." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Chesney, Kenny." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/chesney-kenny-0

"Chesney, Kenny." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved December 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/chesney-kenny-0

Chesney, Kenny

Kenny Chesney

Singer, songwriter, guitarist

For the Record

Me and You Brings Chesneys First Gold

Selected discography

Sources

Blessed with a voice that sounds older than his years, Kenny Chesney is a country vocalist in the hard-core country sense. Heavily influenced by such classical stylists such as Merle Haggard and George the Possum Jones, he appreciates the country rock of Charlie Daniels and his band as well. Through Chesneys talent and his dogged persistence in the face of a first recording contract that didnt pan out, the singles off his more recent albums for BNA have consistently charted in the Top Ten. I want a 20-year career, not just a few records that go gold and then are gone, Chesney told Michael A. Capozzoli Jr. in Country Weekly. Since the singer/songwriter first hit the streets of Nashville in 1991, he has shown that he has what it takes to make that wish a reality.

Chesney was born March 26, 1968, in Lutrelle, a small town near Knoxville, Tennessee, that is the famed birthplace of guitar virtuoso Chet Atkins. As a boy, he listened to country and bluegrass music along with his friends, but his own dreams were of becoming a star athletemay be a baseball playerrather than a country singer. By the time he reached high school, his family had moved to Knoxville, and Chesney became serious about football. He also had his first flirtation with music: he and a friend joined the local choir, and were inspired by the choirs director with enthusiasm for melody and vocal harmony.

In 1986, after graduating from high school, Chesney enrolled at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, where he decided to pursue a degree in business. Then, on Christmas Day of his sophomore year, he received a guitar as a gift. With his earlier enthusiasm for music renewed, Chesney learned enough chords to work out the Eagles Tequilla Sunrise. I wasnt sure what I wanted to do, the singer told Linda Burchfield in Country Song Roundup. Until I got my first guitar, and then I was hooked. Pretty soon he was entertaining his friends with his singing and was writing his own songs as well. Encouraged by his roommates, he got a gig at a small restaurant near campus, but was disappointed by the lack of response from the restaurants rowdy Saturday Night studentcrowd. However, Chesney didnt give up; he continued to play at small restaurants and clubs near campus. Eventually he rented some studio time at Classic Recording in Bristol, Virginia, and laid down an albums worth of self-penned tracks. Sales of his tapes at his shows were so successful that Chesney was soon able to buy himself a brand new Martin guitar with the profits.

Chesneys fan following expanded as he moved further from his base on campus and began playing venues in Virginia and the Carolinas. Even though the music bug

For the Record

Born March 26, 1968, in Lutrelle, TN. Education: Eastern Tennessee State University, B.S. in marketing, 1991.

Began performing in small clubs, Johnson City, TN, 1987; moved to Nashville, 1991; signed with Acuff/Rose, 1992; signed with Capricorn, 1993; released debut album, In My Wildest Dreams, 1994; signed with BNA, 1995.

Addresses: Record company BNA Entertainment, 1 Music Circle North, Nashville, TN 37203-4310. Management Dale Morris Agency, 818 19th Ave. South, Nashville, TN.

had bit hard, he fought the urge to quit school and move to Nashville. Graduating from East Tennessee State with a degree in advertising and marketing in December of 1991, he wasted no time in pulling up stakes and moving to Music City to become a songwriter. Playing clubs at night and parking cars by day, Chesney kept the bills paid while doing his homework on the country music industry. I read every book about the music business that I could get my hands on, he told Burchfield. Then I just picked up the phone and called [BMI publishing executive] Clay Bradley. Bradley helped the young newcomer get a songwriters contract with Acuff/Rose publishing in 1992.

After an appearance at a local songwriters showcase in 1993, Chesney landed a recording contract with Capricorn Recordss new country division, and released his critically acclaimed debut album, In My Wildest Dreams. The 1994 album, features Chesneys first recording of The Tin Man, which made itto number 70 on the charts. Unfortunately for the young artist, Capricorn disbanded its country division shortly thereafter, leaving Chesney with a record but no promotional help. By that time, however, his talents as a songwriter and vocalist were well known in town, and BNA was waiting in the wings. That label, which signed Chesney in 1995, also purchased the master disks to In My Wildest Dreams. Chesneys first record with BNA, All I Need To Know, would feature a reprise of The Tin Man as its first single.

1995s All I Need to Know, produced by Barry Beckett, showcased Chesney the traditionalist, backed by fiddles, steel, and a whole lot of country flavor. The vocalist sounded as equally at home on such emotion-filled love songs as the title track, Fall in Love and Honey Would You Stand by Me as he did on ballads like The Tin Man and Grandpa Told Me So. One of the recordings highlights is Between Midnight and Daylight, a honky tonks last call before it closed down the bar. Taken as a whole, All I Need To Know, on which Chesney co-wrote four songs, reflects the artists traditional sensibilities and would result in Chesneys first two top ten hits: Me and You and When I Close My Eyes.

Since his first album was released, Chesney has spent most of his time on the road, touring with artists like Aaron Tippin, Confederate Railroad, Jones, Trisha Year-wood, Clay Walker, and Patty Loveless and otherwise promoting his work. In addition to his own songs, he covers hits by Keith Whitley, Jones, and Haggard in his stage showin fact, the singers all-time favorite song is the Hags Thats the Way Love Goes. Chesneys favorite venues are fairs, festivals, and roomy honky tonks where he can perform a show of more than two hours and pull out all the stops.

Me and You Brings Chesneys First Gold

Me and You, released by BNA in 1996, would be a more pulled-together effort than its predecessors, but would remain solidly in the country camp. It would also be Chesneys first gold album. The albums first single, Back in My Arms Again, quickly climbed the charts, and When I Close My Eyes made it all the way to the Number One spot. In addition to releasing Me and You, Chesney continued to tour with Alabama, with whom he had been opening for crowds of 15,000 fans a night since 1994. With that kind of exposure, sales of his third album continued to rise.

Chesney co-wrote three of the eleven tracks on 1997s I Will Stand, which was fronted by the single Shes Got It All and the momentum of his gold-stamped Me and You. I went through a lot of stressful nights, wondering which songs to keep and which to let go, because this is a very pivotal album for me, Chesney told Deborah Evans Price of Billboard about his third BNA effort. He explained his personal songwriting goals to interviewer Dixie Weathersby in Close Up: As a songwriter and an artist, I want to try to make somebody laugh, I want to try to make somebody cry, I want to try to make somebody remember their first girlfriend or their first kiss. You want to try to make them miss somebody or want something. Thats what I try to do when I write songs. In addition to pulling emotions from his listeners, Chesney also wanted to cut a tune or two that was hard-core country, regardless of whether country radio played it or not. Hillbilly Heaven with Their Honky Tonk Hell was that song, which features backup vocals by both fellow Young Country artist Tracy Lawrence and The Possum himself, who Chesney maintains is the best country singer there ever was. Of additional interest on the album is the acoustic version of Chesneys hit When I Close My Eyes, which he performed live for several years prior to recording it.

Rather than try to make a big splash, Chesney has remained conservative in planning his career. I am glad I have taken really small steps, he told Weathers-by. I have learned something in every step that helped me get to the next one. Shoot, if I get to do this for 20 more years, and I am still taking these small steps, then that is what Im going to do because I love country music. That is what brought me to Nashvillesongs and the love of songs. Thats probably what is going to keep me here.

Selected discography

In My Wildest Dreams, Capricorn, 1994.

All I Need to Know, BNA, 1995.

Me and you (includes Back in My Arms Again), BNA, 1996.

I Will Stand, BNA, 1997.

Sources

Billboard, April 12, 1997; June 14, 1997.

Close Up, March 1997.

Country Song Roundup, December 1995; October 1996; December 1996.

Country Weekly, April 29, 1997.

Additional information for this profile was provided by BNA Entertainment.

Pamela Shelton

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Chesney, Kenny." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Chesney, Kenny." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/chesney-kenny

"Chesney, Kenny." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved December 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/chesney-kenny

Chesney, Kenny

KENNY CHESNEY

Born: Knoxville, Tennessee, 26 March 1968

Genre: Country

Best-selling album since 1990: No Shirt, No Shoes, No Problems (2002)

Hit songs since 1990: "She's Got It All," "How Forever Feels," "The Good Stuff"


Although his music bears a strong pop and rock influence, Kenny Chesney is at heart a fine country balladeer in the manner of famed 1950s and 1960s singers such as Eddy Arnold and Bill Anderson. His voice, a flexible, assured instrument that ranges higher than most of his male contemporaries, has a built-in twang that carries a strong emotional pull. Chesney's inherent sweetness allows him to tackle material that would sound hokey in other hands; his rendition of the sentimental, half-spoken ballad, "A Lot of Things Different" (2002), for instance, ranks as a highlight of his career. While in appearance Chesney resembles the numerous country "hunks in a hat" who proliferated in the 1990s, his fine sense of pitch, sensitive phrasing, and appealing honesty reveal an artist of genuine talent. For all his ability, however, Chesney sometimes sounds as if he is skirting the emotional borders of his songs, preferring sensitivity to soulful exploration and depth.

Raised in the East Tennessee town of Luttrell, Chesney grew up surrounded by the influence of country music, although his own tastes leaned closer to rock. While working on a marketing degree at East Tennessee State University, Chesney heard veteran country performer Merle Haggard on the car radio and decided to shift his musical focus. Soon he was practicing guitar and performing frequent gigs around campus. In 1991 Chesney moved to the country music hub of Nashville and found a steady gig at the Turf, a rough and tumble bar in the city's seedy lower Broadway district. Chesney's appearances at the Turf led to a recording contract with Capricorn Records, a small label best known for its rock acts during the 1970s. Although Chesney released one album for Capricorn, his career did not take off until he moved to the larger BNA label, a division of music conglomerate BMG. Chesney's debut album for BNA, All I Need to Know (1995), was a well-crafted set that spotlighted his high, quavering voice on a range of up-tempo and ballad material. On songs such as "Fall in Love" and "Grandpa Told Me So," Chesney established his nice-guy image, eschewing old-fashioned country rowdiness to proclaim virtues of family and tradition.

Chesney released several albums during the remainder of the 1990s, frequently displaying signs of artistic growth. On songs such as "When I Close My Eyes" and "It's Never Easy to Say Goodbye" (both 1996), Chesney paints vivid portraits of love and loss, confirming his status as one of the finest ballad singers of his generation. Elsewhere, on the silly novelty hit "She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy" and the pop-influenced ballad "You Had Me from Hello" (both 1999), he sounds burdened with the weight of his own professionalism, singing with smooth efficiency but little depth.

In 2002 Chesney released his most commercially successful album, No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems. Although the cut-off T-shirt he sports on the album's cover points to a new, sexier image, Chesney sings with his familiar warmth and tenderness. The album's biggest hit, "The Good Stuff," perfectly sums up his appeal. After a fight with his wife, he walks into a bar and asks for "the good stuff." In the days of Haggard and his hell-raising contemporary George Jones, the set-up would be an excuse for a booze-drenched exploration of pain and heartache. In Chesney's song, however, the bartender responds by refusing a drink, instead telling him: "It's the first long kiss on a second date, mama's all worried when you get home late . . . that's the good stuff." More than any song in Chesney's canon, "The Good Stuff" illustrates the difference between tough country music of the 1960s and its clean, modern equivalent. It perfectly embodies Chesney's well-scrubbed persona, although he clearly possesses the vocal capacity to deliver more adventurous work.

Like fellow performer John Michael Montgomery, Chesney helped guide country music toward pop and rock in the 1990s. Unlike Montgomery, however, Chesney has the vocal power and range to communicate both country and pop material with honesty and effectiveness. Although from an emotional standpoint he sometimes sounds less than engaged, Chesney never fails to suffuse his recordings with technical assurance and warmth.

SELECTIVE DISCOGRAPHY:

In My Wildest Dreams (Capricorn, 1994); All I Need to Know (BNA, 1995); Me and You (BNA, 1996); I Will Stand (BNA, 1997); Everywhere We Go (BNA, 1999); Greatest Hits (BNA, 2000); No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems (BNA, 2002).

WEBSITE:

www.kennychesney.com.

david freeland

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Chesney, Kenny." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Chesney, Kenny." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/chesney-kenny

"Chesney, Kenny." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. . Retrieved December 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/chesney-kenny