Dan + Shay Open Up About How Kenny Chesney Inspired Them

by Taylor Cunningham
(Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for CMT)

Dan + Shay had the privilege of working with one of their favorite country stars—Kenny Chesney—this summer. And the experience made them realize just how much of an inspiration he truly is.

The duo teamed up with Chesney, Old Dominion, and Carly Pearce for the Here and Now tour that traveled the country over the summer.

Chesney asked the guys to tag along because the respect is mutual. He thinks Dan + Shay are talented beyond words. So working alongside them was an honor.

“Putting this lineup together has been awesome,” Chesney said in a statement ahead of the tour. “We’ve got Dan + Shay, who continue to set records with their music and have been burning it up on their own headlining tour this year.”

But for Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney, who comprise the band, being able to join the tour meant something more. Kenny Chesney has been a county music megastar for decades. He broke into the industry in 1988 and has since become a Grammy-winning legend with 31 chart-topping hits and counting. So, it was a pretty big deal when he asked the band to help him headline.

“It’s a dream come true for a couple of clowns like us,” Smyers shared with Music Mayhem.

Dan + Shay Penned a Tribute Song to Kenny Chesney in 2020

In fact, Smyers and Mooney look up to Kenny Chesney so much that they actually penned a song in his honor called I Go Back in 2020. And singing on stage with him gave them even more of an appreciation for Chesney as an entertainer.

“He’s amazing,” added Mooney. “And honestly, he’s very inspiring, watching his show. He’s running around on stage for three hours. And I’m like, we run around a lot, but we have nothing on Kenny.”

“He’s running back and forth covering the entire stage and that’s a stage in a stadium that’s massive. So uh, it’s been very inspiring to be out with him and he’s been so kind to us,” he continued. “We’re very thankful he asked us to come out, it’s been a fun summer.”

Here and Now kicked off in April, just as the guys finished their own headlining tour. And it made 21 stops around the United States. Smyers and Mooney said being second to Kenny Chesney was fun and even relaxing. And it will go down as one of their favorite experiences ever.

“I think I can speak for both of us [that] this is the most fun that we’ve ever had touring,” Mooney admitted in June. “I mean, we had obviously finished our headlining tour back in the fall, and that was incredible. But like you said, it was a big breath of fresh air because all the pressure is on you on your headlining tour, and we don’t have to worry about that. So, if nobody shows up, it’s Kenny’s fault. We didn’t do it.”