POSTCARDS FROM PARADISE

It's a biting 20 degrees in Nashville - and snow is on the way in a just a few hours. Yet while the rest of Music City is bundled up in wool coats and boots, one of its most famous residents apparently didn't get the weather report - Kenny Chesney is wearing flip-flops!

"I swear, I live my life in them!" he exclaims. "This morning I went to Atlanta to meet a girl who was having a kidney transplant. She said, 'Kenny, you need some shoes.' I had a coat on and everything - but I looked down and I had flip-flops on."

Perhaps Kenny's hoping his rubber footwear will magically transport him to the Caribbean - where for the past eight years, he's spent part of every winter.

The exact location? Kenny's keeping that a secret for now. In the liner notes for his new album, Be As You Are: Songs From an Old Blue Chair, he'll only admit to being in the British Virgin Islands. But he's hoping that this new record will make fans understand why a Luttrell, Tenn., homeboy and current Nashville superstar can't wait to feel the waves lapping at his feet.

"Even though East Tennessee is my home," declares Kenny, "every time I go back to the islands they say, 'Welcome Home, Kenny.' And they're right. It has become a third home for me - well, a fourth home if you count my bus. I feel very at home when I'm down there, just like I do on my grandmother's couch. It's really no different. In the middle of all the CMA awards and the record breaking concert sales, I've been able to realize that there's still a kid from East Tennessee in there, who's still very basic and real.

"That's what the essence of this record is," he adds. "It's a side of me that I've never let out. As a person and as a songwriter, I've become confident enough to let people see it."

You'd think a guy whose albums routinely go multiplatinum wouldn't struggle with his self-image. Yet while Kenny's celebrity status has been rising, he also craved privacy and began looking inward, writing simple, acoustic-based songs about himself and the bonds he was forming with the islands.

"I didn't plan on doing this record," Kenny states. "It's just that all of a sudden, I had all these heartfelt songs I'd written out in the middle of the ocean, or in some little cove or key, sitting on my boat. This record is me showing people who have seen the rock 'n' roll Kenny up onstage with all the lights, video screens and the big sound system a more hushed, laid-back Kenny. It reflects how I live down there."

To read more about Kenny's new album and love for the Caribbean, pick up the new Country Weekly on newsstands today!

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