“If country music ever goes out of style, then I’m out of a gig,” Kenny Chesney says with a laugh. “If there’s one thing I want the fans to know about me, it’s that my singing is the genuine article.”
Chesney, 30, has been working for the better part of the ‘90s to get his music noticed. Now, with his latest album, “Me and You,” climbing the country charts - it’s No. 9 this week in Billboard - the Tennessee native is finally getting folks to listen to his traditional brand of country.
After graduating from East Tennessee State University with a marketing degree in 1990, Chesney moved to Nashville with the intent of signing a record deal. While working various odd jobs - parking valet, telemarketer and warehouse worker - Chesney got his big break and was signed to a songwriting contract with Acuff-Rose Music.
A year later, Chesney secured what he thought would be a solid deal by signing to Capricorn Records’ country music division. He released his first album, “In My Wildest Dreams,” and began a grueling touring schedule which lasted nearly three years. “The traveling on the road for months on end is what kills you,” he says.
But when Capricorn disbanded the struggling division, Chesney lost his record deal and thought he’d have to start all over again. BNA Records soon came knocking with a deal, however, and “everything seemed to fall right back in place.”
In 1995, BNA released Chesney’s album, “All I Need To Know.” The album contained the hit song “Me and You,” though the track was not released as a single at the time. “We decided that it wasn’t the best time to release that one,” Chesney says.
When the time came for Chesney to choose material for his third album, he decided to feature “Me and You” prominently, having heard stories from fans about just how important the song was to them.
“Me and You,” Chesney says, reveals his romantic side. “I’ve got a satellite dish and I watch old movies on TV every now and then,” he says. “I feel that some of the songs I sing could have fit right in on the soundtracks to those old classic western movies. I try to pick songs and write songs that will touch people. And those old movies sure could touch people in a special way.”
Chesney, who lives in Nashville, is one of country music’s most eligible bachelors. With many of his peers getting married, the singer acknowledges he feels like the odd man out at times.
“You know, I realize there are people in country music who, when their career takes off, say, ‘Oh no! I’ve got to get married,”’ he observes. “I’ve noticed the way things have changed in how some people, especially other country singers, treat me because I’m single. Well, I want to get married one day and have a family, but right now I’m real busy and I’m gone all the time. It wouldn’t be very fair to anybody. If I do get married, I want to give 110 percent to the marriage.”
For now, though, he’s going to have a full schedule with a new album tentatively scheduled for sometime this summer.
“I’m wide open, playing about 15 to 20 shows a month all summer, right into the fall,” he says. “It won’t wind down until the end of November.”
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