Kenny Chesney’s Life Changed the Day He Stopped Trying to Be George Strait

“I started being honest in my songwriting and being myself onstage,” says Kenny.

For the first several years of Kenny Chesney’s career, the multiplatinum singer says he struggled to craft a unique image that would set him apart from other cowboy hat-clad male artists. Like many rising male country artists, he paid homage to one of his favorite artists in his sound and image.

“Like a lot of people did, and I was guilty of it . . . George Strait was the guy that was the model to everybody at the time and still is today. Everybody wants to be like [George]. As much as I love him and respect him, the moment I quit trying to be him is the moment my life changed,” said Kenny.

“When I started being honest about my songwriting and started being myself onstage, that’s when that happened.” He says his fans “knew the songs, but they didn’t know me.” Around 2002, Kenny says he came up with a game plan. “I realized I have to get better as a person, as a friend, as a songwriter, as a musician, an artist, a record producer, you name it. I remember lying in bed awake in the middle of the night, thinking of things in my head, and I had a notepad lying by my bed. I wrote down 30 things that I could do to make myself better. The next day I started to do it.” Those changes led to more songs about his life in the islands and his life in East Tennessee. To accomplish that monstrous list of changes in himself, he had to make some attitude changes as well.

“That whole process during that time, I would think that there was somebody out there that I had never met—this was the mentality that I had when my life changed—there is somebody somewhere kicking my butt,” said Kenny. “I may never meet them, and I ain’t going to let that happen. I want to be person they are thinking about, instead of me thinking about them.”

Nowadays, Kenny is definitely the star that everybody else is thinking about. During his “year off” last year, he worked on three documentaries, and his current tour features Zac Brown Band, Billy Currington and Uncle Kracker. He just released a new video for “You and Tequila” with pop singer Grace Potter.


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