(After commenting that the Academy of Country Music’s entertainer of the year award should remain an industry-voted honor, Kenny Chesney elaborated on his feelings in a letter to fans. The following is a complete transcript of the letter originally posted on his official Web site.)
I want to thank each of you personally for your part in this 4th Entertainer of the Year Award. … You are not just the reason we do this, you are a lot of what makes us Entertainer of the Year. Beyond even your votes — which were critical — but the way you inspire me and the guys. We are more because you give so much … and I want to make sure you know how much I appreciate you, and how much a part of this you guys are.
Just hearing the sounds from the parking lot when everyone’s out grilling and hanging with their friends makes me wanna get out there and rock. To be part of that kind of a good time is the reason I started going to shows, and it’s absolutely why I live to do this.
Which is part of the confusion over my response to the change in the awards criteria. There’s a lot more to being Entertainer of the Year than what we show you … and that’s because I want the music to just be your music, your songs, your life — the way it was for me. I’ve always been a bit uncomfortable with the amount of information that gets out there about how many trucks, how we do the effects, those sorts of things … because I don’t want it to be about semis, I want what we do to be about that moment when you hear the music and we hear you.
To me, Entertainer of the Year is about the work that goes into it. I don’t ever want you worrying about the work; I want you living the songs … being in the moment of the music … finding your life on the radio, whether it’s something easy like “Summertime” or a song that helps you through a rough time like “I Go Back” or “There Goes My Life.”
That was my point. Let the people who do the work, judge the work part of it … let the fans love what we do for that. And that was what I was being asked about … what a lot of people in the business were talking about … and frankly something an awful lot of artists and business people have told me they not only agree with, but something the entire media room applauded pretty resoundingly after I addressed it Sunday night.
Sure, to make me sound ungrateful is a sexy way to spin this to drive viewers. It’s controversy, and that sells. But realistically — and based on the response in our fan forum — you know how important you are to me, how much I believe in the way we’ve all built this together. You, the fans, are the reason I keep pushing, keep striving, keep wanting to be more and better.
When I stood on the stage and said “this means the world to me,” I meant it … because it means not only am I blessed with the best fans in the world, but you guys were willing to stand up for us and be counted. It’s not the same award … given for the same things … but knowing how much you care, how much you believe in this dream, well, that is everything.
So please know … I love you. I believe in you — and the way you believe in this music, these nights we get to share, the way it all comes together when we’re together. There is nothing like the feeling of being out there with you guys … and I live my whole life just for those moments. Thank you for that, because in the end, that is what matters the most to me.