Kenneth Arnold Chesney is an American country music singer, songwriter, and guitarist. He has recorded more than 20 albums and has produced more than 40 Top 10 singles on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs and Country Airplay charts, 32 of which have reached number one. Many of these have also charted within the Top 40 of the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, making him one of the most successful crossover country artists. He has sold over 30 million albums worldwide.
Chesney has received twelve Country Music Association Awards and eleven Academy of Country Music Awards , as well as six Grammy Award nominations. He is one of the most popular touring acts in country music, regularly selling out the venues in which he performs. His 2007 Flip-Flop Summer Tour was the highest-grossing country road trip of the year.
Chesney was born on March 26, 1968, in Knoxville, Tennessee, United States, at St. Mary's Medical Center and was raised in Luttrell. He is of English and Irish descent. He is the son of David Chesney, a former elementary school teacher, and Karen Chandler, a hair stylist in the Knoxville area. Chesney has one sibling, a younger sister named Jennifer Chandler. In 1986, Chesney graduated from Gibbs High School, where he played baseball and football. He received his first guitar, "The Terminor", for Christmas and began teaching himself how to play it.
Chesney studied advertising at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, where he was a member of the ETSU Bluegrass Program and the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity and graduated in 1990. In 1989, he recorded a self-released demo album at the Classic Recording Studio in Bristol, Virginia. He sold 1,000 copies while performing at the local clubs in Johnson City and used the money from album sales to help himself buy a new guitar.
After graduation from East Tennessee State in 1990, he moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where he performed at several local clubs, including The Bluebird Cafe. He became the resident performer at The Turf, a honky tonk bar in the city's historic district.
In 1992, the head of writer relations at BMI, Clay Bradley, recommended Chesney to his friend, Troy Tomlinson, at Opryland Music Group by saying: "I met this kid today from East Tennessee. He's a good singer, a good songwriter, and more than anything, I think you're going to really like him as a person." Chesney performed five songs during his audition for Tomlinson. Tomlinson's reaction was enthusiastic, later telling HitQuarters: