After many years as a mid-level country artist, Kenny Chesney fused arena-size country with Caribbean rhythms to become one of the genre’s biggest stars of the 21st century.
Born and raised in East Tennessee, Chesney didn’t seriously start pursuing music until he was in college, despite being an enthusiast his entire life. While continuing his studies, Chesney played in a bluegrass band and for tips at a Mexican restaurant. He managed to finance a demo album and moved to Nashville in 1991. He played at a local honky-tonk called the Turf, and eventually landed a publishing deal in 1992 that led to a record deal with Capricorn in 1993.
His debut for the label, In My Wildest Dreams, found little success, but it laid the groundwork for a new deal with BNA Records. His second set, All I Need to Know, put him on the map. Throughout the nineties, he slowly built a career at radio and retail, as his songs inched higher on the charts and he moved from gold, to platinum, and then to multi-platinum sales by the end of the nineties.
Still, there was little to indicate that he was about to explode into superstardom. But as his live shows gained greater attention, Chesney began to incorporate Caribbean sounds into his music, styling himself as an island singer in the same vein as Jimmy Buffett. Through stronger song choices that helped repair the novelty act image that had been created with hits like “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy”, Chesney began to earn critical acclaim for his work.
By the mid-2000’s, Chesney was the biggest act in country music, selling millions of copies of his albums and more concert tickets than even the biggest pop and rock acts of the day. He dominated the awards circuit, and even managed to sell big numbers of indulgent side projects like Be Who You Are and Lucky Old Sun.
Today, Chesney remains a top concert draw and a core radio act. He is currently prepping another studio album and a co-headlining tour with Tim McGraw.
- That’s Why I’m Here, 1998
- The Good Stuff, 2002
- Anything But Mine, 2005
- Who You’d Be Today, 2005
- Beer in Mexico, 2007
- You and Tequila (with Grace Potter), 2011
- I Will Stand, 1997
- No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems, 2002
- When the Sun Goes Down, 2004
- Be as You Are: Songs From an Old Blue Chair, 2005
- The Road and the Radio, 2006
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