Kenneth Arnold Chesney, 26 March 1968, Knoxville, Tennessee, USA. A handsome country singer-songwriter specializing in heartfelt ballads, Chesney has earned a reputation as a genial and hard-working traditional artist. In 1994, he made his debut for Capricorn Records with a self-titled collection that established him as a competent writer, though one lacking the unique qualities needed to make a bigger impression on the marketplace. Both All I Need To Know (1995) and Me And You (1996), his two subsequent albums for BNA Records in the mid-90s, revealed steady progression, with the title track of the latter album performing well on country radio. He accompanied its release with a major nationwide tour in support of country rock veterans Alabama, and his following continued to build apace. George Jones and Tracy Lawrence joined Chesney on From Hillbilly Heaven To Honky Tonk Hell, the best track on 1997s I Will Stand. The album also featured his first country chart-topper, Shes Got It All.
The follow-up, Everywhere We Go, was another strong collection with the title of She Thinks My Tractors Sexy worth the price of admission alone. How Forever Feels and You Had Me From Hello both reached the top of the country charts and confirmed Chesney as a bona fide new country star. No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems (2002) and When The Sun Goes Down (2004) were slightly less country and more rock, but still found a receptive audience. The latter featured the huge country hit, There Goes My Life, and both albums topped the mainstream Billboard 200. A collaboration with the perennially laid back Jimmy Buffett on his 2004 release Licence To Chill inspired Chesney to record the unusual Be As You Are: Songs From An Old Blue Chair, an album comprised solely of ballads. The record label only sanctioned one single release and, although the album reached the top of the mainstream and country charts and achieved platinum status, ultimately it sold significantly less than Chesneys more conventional albums.
At the start of May 2005, Chesney married actress Renee Zellweger in a small ceremony on the US Virgin Islands. By October she was seeking an annulment for alleged fraud (promises made but broken after the marriage). Chesneys fortunes were boosted when his new album The Road And The Radio went straight to the top of the US mainstream chart the following month, and the singles Living In Fast Forward, Summertime and Beer In Mexico all reached the top of the country singles chart. The studio follow-up Just Who I Am: Poets & Pirates (2007) saw Chesney attempting to jettison his party boy image with mixed results.
Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.