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Featured Artist: Kenny Chesney

Contemporary country star Kenny Chesney didn’t have the immediate breakout success that many of his peers enjoyed upon signing with major labels, but gradually built up a significant following via hard work, pop-friendly ballads, and a likable, average-guy persona. Chesney was born in Knoxville, TN, in 1968 and raised in the nearby small town of Luttrell, better known as the home of Chet Atkins. He grew up listening to both country and rock & roll, but didn’t get serious about music until college, when he studied marketing at East Tennessee State University. He received a guitar as a Christmas present and set about practicing, and was soon performing with the college bluegrass band. He soon started writing songs as well and played for tips in local venues — most often a Mexican restaurant — every night he could; additionally, he managed to sell 1,000 copies of a self-released demo album. After graduation in 1991, he moved to Nashville and became the resident performer at The Turf, a rougher honky tonk in the city’s historic district. While he gained experience, it wasn’t the sort of place where he’d be discovered, and in 1992, he moved on to a publishing deal with Acuff-Rose. From there he landed a record contract with Capricorn and released his debut album, In My Wildest Dreams, in late 1993.

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