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Introducing DR. Kenny Chesney

By Anthony Cesario

Say goodbye to Kenny Chesney; say hello to Dr. Kenny Chesney.

On Friday, the country superstar returned to his alma mater East Tennessee State University to honor his former mentor Jack Tottle, who founded ETSU’s internationally-recognized Bluegrass, Old-Time and Roots Music Studies program. At the celebration in Tottle’s honor – of which Chesney was a surprise guest – Chesney was also awarded an honorary doctorate of letters for being a key figure of country music in the 21st century.

Photo courtesy ETSU

Over the course of his career, Chesney has had more than 30 number one singles on the US Billboard Hot Country Songs and Country Airplay charts, many which have also been crossover hits on the US Billboard Hot 100. He has become one of the most successful country artists, having sold more than 30 million albums. While taking the stage at the celebration, he said he owed much of his success to the mentorship of Tottle.

Photo courtesy ETSU

Tottle started Bluegrass, Old-Time and Roots Music Studies during the ‘80s as a way to teach young musicians about music’s ability to bring people together. Chesney was a student of this program and through it, learned much about the power of music.

With both teacher and student now being honored, it is clear the program has already made a significant impact, and will continue to do so in the future.

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