Kenny Chesney Receives CRB Humanitarian of the Year Award at CRS 2020
Kenny Chesney was on hand on the opening day of the 2020 Country Radio Seminar on Wednesday (Feb. 19) to receive the CRB's Humanitarian of the Year award, and he took the opportunity to turn the spotlight on the wide array of people who have assisted him in his various charitable endeavors over the years.
Chesney has been dedicated to good works throughout his career, including his Spread the Love Foundation, which benefitted amputee survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing, Drew Brees’ Dream Foundation, MusiCares, St. Jude, Matthew McConaughey’s Just Keep Living Foundation, the Smoky Mountain fire recovery, Music & Memory for Alzheimer's patients, the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Drive, Farm Aid and more. He donated all of the proceeds from his Songs for the Saints album and launched his Love for Love City Fund to provide disaster relief to the U.S. Virgin Islands in the wake of the devastation Hurricanes Irma and Maria caused in 2017.
“I have to tell you, I have a lot of emotions standing up here,” Chesney told the crowd of country music insiders, radio programmers and journalists at the Warner Music lunch and performance at the Omni Hotel in downtown Nashville, which served to officially kick off CRS 2020. “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."
“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," Chesney reflected. "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 went on to specifically thank Warner head John Esposito, drily noting that when he decided to come over to Warner, nobody involved could have suspected that his first album there would be for charity rather than for profit. The superstar also thanked the assembled radio programmers from around the country for their support, as well as his assistant for her work in helping to rescue more than 3,000 animals from St. John and St. Thomas.
Chesney also took the stage to perform a three-song stripped-down acoustic set at the luncheon, treating the audience to "Save It for a Rainy Day," "When the Sun Goes Down" and "Get Along," his multi-week No. 1 hit from Songs for the Saints. Chesney has been hard at work on a new album that he's expected to release in 2020.
Chesney's award and performance were the highlights of an event that also saw some of Warner's other top artists perform, including Chris Janson, whose multi-instrumental, fun and energetic performance of "Done" demonstrated why his label reps introduced him as a "future Entertainer of the Year."
Michael Ray put a different slant on "Her World or Mine," and Cody Johnson gave a standout performance of "Dear Rodeo," calling it "my favorite song I've ever written." Ashley McBryde delivered a knockout performance of "One Night Standards," accompanying herself on acoustic guitar.
Gabby Barrett and Shy Carter were also among the artists who took the stage at the Warner Music luncheon on Wednesday. CRS 2020 continues with events on Thursday (Feb. 20) and Friday (Feb. 21), culminating in the 2020 New Faces of Country Music showcase on Friday evening.
15 Country Stars Who Have Gone Above and Beyond for Charity: