Country superstar Kenny Chesney is known for not only his impressive catalog of hit songs but also his generosity and charitable efforts. On Wednesday (Feb. 19), Chesney received a well-deserved recognition during the 2nd Annual Warner Music Nashville Kickoff Luncheon, which served as the official kick-off to Country Radio Seminar (CRS) 2020.
Prior to Chesney’s three-song set, which included stripped-down performances of “Get Along,” “When the Sun Goes Down” and “Save It For a Rainy Day,” the eight-time Entertainer of the Year was presented with the Country Radio Broadcasters’ highest honor – The Humanitarian of the Year Award.
Upon accepting the award, Chesney told the crowd of over one thousand, “I have to tell you, I have a lot of emotions standing up here, I am embarrassed and uncomfortable, but God has given me the gift of communicating with people through music… and that’s given me a unique platform to help, especially with the Virgin Islands, with Songs for the Saints, which was written in the moment and came from the heart.”
He continued, “You know, I’d heard ‘One Love’ by Bob Marley my whole life, but when you’re under that kind of stress, to see everyone coming together to rebuild and help? I got to see what that song was in action. What was really amazing were so many people who didn’t really have anything, and the way they gave. You didn’t have to be a musician, like me, or a politician, like Mike Bloomberg, to make a difference, and the people did.”
Chesney was honored with the award for the countless charitable deeds he’s been part of throughout the years. Most recently, for raising money for the victims of Hurricane Irma and Maria in the U.S. Virgin Islands. He graciously thanked his record label for allowing him to donate all the proceeds from his 2018 album, Songs for the Saints, to the Love for Love City Foundation.
The soft-spoken singer/songwriter has also given back through his own Spread the Love Foundation, which benefitted amputee survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing, as well as Drew Brees’ Dream Foundation, MusiCares, St. Jude, Matthew McConaughey’s Just Keep Living Foundation, the Smoky Mountain fire recovery, Music & Memory for Alzheimers patients, the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Drive, Farm Aid and countless others.
Chesney went on to thank Warner Music Nashville label head John Esposito for his support, then expressed his gratitude to country radio for their longtime support.
“In 2018 when we were out doing our stadium tour, and last year, so many of you came out. Everyone wanted to talk about the relief and what we were doing (with the recovery work). I don’t know about other formats, but country has always been a family – and when somebody in the family hurts, we all hurt. I felt that. It gave me a lot of energy to get out there on the road, to get onstage.”
He also took a moment to recognize his assistant, Jill, for her charitable work. She led the efforts to rescue over 3,000 abandoned animals from St. John and St. Thomas as part of the Love for Love City efforts. Chesney told the crowd, “Without her, the people of Tortola, across New England, animal rescues and shelters all over Florida, it wouldn’t have happened. And now all those animals have homes.”
The Artist Humanitarian Award was created by the CRB in 1990 and is presented to artists who “have exhibited exceptional humanitarian efforts during their career.” Previous recipients of the award include Blake Shelton, Dierks Bentley, Lady Antebellum, Carrie Underwood, Rascal Flatts, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, Trace Adkins, Randy Owen, Toby Keith, Brad Paisley, Brooks & Dunn, Reba, Vince Gill, Garth Brooks and Charlie Daniels (among others).
Kenny Chesney is currently in the studio completing his next studio album, which will serve as the follow up to 2018’s Songs for the Saints. The superstar was joined by several of his label mates, including Chris Janson, Gabby Barrett, Michael Ray, Cody Johnson, Ashley McBryde and Shy Carter, at the luncheon.