The year 2000 may be winding down, but not Kenny Chesney. In the Carolinas for a run of radio station visits, in-store appearances and fan meet-and-greets to promote his new album, Greatest Hits, he squeezes in an interview via cell phone. “I Lost It,” the first video and single from his new collection, is climbing CMT’s Top 12 Video Countdown and has gone as high as No. 9 on the Billboard country singles chart.
Wednesday (Nov. 29) at 9 p.m. ET, Chesney brings a taste of the album and his stage show to CMT’s All Access: Kenny Chesney. Sara Evans, also on the Top 12 Video Countdown with “Born to Fly,” will be his special guest. Immediately following the concert telecast, Chesney will join country.com to answer questions from fans at 10 p.m. ET. Questions and Chesney’s responses will be displayed simultaneously on TV and in the country.com Chat Auditorium.
Despite personal setbacks in 2000, including a broken engagement and a June arrest with Tim McGraw after an incident with police in Buffalo, N.Y., Chesney’s professional star continues to rise. By releasing hits such as “What I Need to Do” and “I Lost It,” appearing on the George Strait Festival Tour and headlining his own shows for the first time, Chesney has made progress toward the first ranks of country stardom.
“This year, I really felt like the [Strait] tour catapulted me into a different level as far as the way people look at me, as far as credibility, record sales and my relationship with radio,” he says. “Last year, people knew who we were, but this year I felt like they were there to see me, too, along with George and Tim [McGraw].
“We were playing in front of 70,000 people every night, and there’s not a bigger high in the world than playing in front of that many people and having them sing back ‘How Forever Feels’ and ‘She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy.'”
As a support player on the Strait tour, Chesney picked up a few tips about running his own headlining show.
“We’re adding a lot to our stage,” he says. “Three years ago, I was in one bus, hauling a trailer behind me in that one bus. Next year, we’re going to have three buses and two semi-trucks rolling down the road. We want to make our show as good as we possibly can.
“We’re selling out a lot of shows now. That’s what I came to Nashville to do, to be able to go out there and headline and do my own show. It’s been the most incredible year of my life.”
Touring with artists like Strait and Alabama, who have proven themselves as mainstays, has given Chesney direction in how to maintain his own career. He knows that while fans enjoy the high energy of a live show, developing staying power always comes back to the music.
“The one thing those acts have in common is that they’ve had long careers. What got them there, and kept them there, is having great songs, songs people can relate to. That’s been the secret to our success, too, being able to find really good songs. It’s basic; we’re not trying to reinvent the wheel. I don’t want to change anything.”
Chesney’s consistent performance on the country charts prompted BNA Records to release the Greatest Hits package. For some, a greatest hits record might reflect a career past its peak. For Chesney, it’s just a chance to pause and take a breath.
“The last seven years have been a physical and emotional roller-coaster ride for me,” he admits. “To be able to legitimately have a greatest hits record, with 12 Top 10 songs and a few new ones, is a way for me and my fans to see what we’ve been through and where we’re at right now.”
All Access viewers can share in that experience. Chesney will perform favorites such as “How Forever Feels,” “I Lost It” and “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy.” He especially looks forward to reaching fans who haven’t seen him in a live concert.
“We do like to have a good time,” he promises. “All Access is my chance to show people how fun our shows are, to let them see what we do. We’re excited.”