Kenny Chesney Presented With Honorary Degree at ETSU Bluegrass Celebration

by Samantha Whidden
(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Stagecoach)

On Friday (October 21st), country music icon Kenny Chesney was awarded an honorary degree at Eastern Tennessee University during the college’s Bluegrass, Old-Time, and Roots music studies’ 40th-anniversary celebration. 

News Channel 11 reported that during the celebration, Kenny Chesney made an appearance. He stated that Johnson City, Tennessee has made an impact on his widely successful music career. “I didn’t know how to dream this way. It all started here I mean I used to play at Chuckey’s trading post. I played at the Down-Home, I played at a place called Quarterbacks BBQ here on the Tree Streets and that’s where all this started. It really is.”

Jack Tottle, who founded the University’s bluegrass program four decades ago, was also given an honorary doctorate degree.

Eastern Tennessee State University claims to be the leading institution for bluegrass, old-time, and country music since 1982. The program is to honor the “ways that these styles of music have been handed down for generations.” It encourages innovation and exploration of related and newly emerging music studies. The program is notably claimed to be the first of its kind at a university anywhere on the planet. Eastern Tennessee University is also the first university to offer a B.A. in this field of study.  

David Menconi, a reporter for the Raleigh News & Observer previously stated, “When it comes to collegiate bluegrass programs, the nationwide gold standard is East Tennessee State University’s Bluegrass, Old-Time, and Roots Music program.”

Kenny Chesney Reflects on His Favorite Tour Moments 

Prior to the launch of his Here And Now Tour this past spring, Kenny Chesney reflected on his favorite tour moments over the years. 

While speaking to Grammy Awards, Kenny Cheney declared, “All the shows are special. When we did the Songs for the Saints Tour, it was about recognizing those fans who don’t live in stadium markets, who have to travel. I grew up outside Knoxville; I was one of those kids, and I don’t forget that stuff. To me, any stage I get to walk out on? It’s the best possible show I could do anywhere — and that’s what we try to do.”

Kenny Chesney also stated that stadiums have this massive energy. “[Stadiums] built for football games, fans who get loud! That’s what they’re for, and if you do your set list right, to have all those people together, well, we can lift each other up in ways you can’t anywhere else. There’s nothing like it: the sound, the staging, the momentum.”

In regards to his No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems album (which celebrated its 20th anniversary this year), Kenny Chesney added what the album really means. “Being free-spirited, carefree. Ocean life. Letting go of everything that stresses you. Sometimes you can’t do anything about it, so let go.”