Wednesday, August 1, 2018 - 2:45pm

It came from his heart, fueled by the anxiety of waiting – and watching – as the Caribbean islands where he makes his home were battered by Hurricane Irma, then Maria. For Kenny ChesneySongs for the Saints wasn’t an album created for hit singles or critical acclaim, but to process his own emotions and to let the people on the islands known as the Saints know they were not only not forgotten, but their spirit was being held up as a source of inspiration.
“It was as pure, in the moment of creation, as anything I’ve ever been involved in,” says the man who just broke Billboard’s record for most No. 1s on the Country Airplay Chart with Saints’ lead track “Get Along.” “All these emotions needed somewhere to go, but the more I thought about the islands and the people who live there, their spirit and the way they face these unknowns, the more I thought this music should show the world that resilience.”
Chesney’s not the only one thinking about Songs for the Saints. Less than a week after its release, some of the nation’s most important publications have already weighed in. ABC News Radio called it, “the eye of the storm,” New York’s Newsday offered Chesney’s “finding inspiration and purpose in catastrophe” and The Miami Herald deemed it, “Chesney’s most thoughtful and rewarding album since Hemingway’s Whiskey in 2010.”
Rolling Stone raved Saints “maps a cycle of grief and despair transformed into healing and resilience,” while USA Today assessed it as “a singer/songwriter project driven by vulnerability and determination” and The Chicago Tribune noted, “a thoughtful, mostly acoustic-driven release that resonates with love and renewal.” The New York Times’ lead critic Jon Pareles looked into the actual music, offering, “Everything country music learned from arena rock is in the mix …the music gives him heroic, wide-open spaces.”
With a three-page spread in this week’s PEOPLE, the man who’s currently rocking 50,000-plus on the 19-stadium part of his Trip Around the Sun Tour is going deep to consider what the devastation meant, how he’s helping the islands face the future and how it made his music mean even more. Last week’s three-page Entertainment Weekly profile also took in the inspiration for Songs for the Saints, calling it, “…a love letter to the resilience of those living in the Caribbean. Suffused with acoustic guitars, steel drums, and wistful melodies, the record is both buoyant and melancholy.”
“It’s been mind-blowing to see some of the people who got it,” Chesney says. “These are the toughest critics, and they see the soul of the record, why it mattered. I’ve spoken to NPR, Robin Roberts on ‘Good Morning America’ and Jimmy Fallon on ‘The Tonight Show’ – and seeing those places that don’t always embrace mainstream country music embrace this album shows how music can and does bring people together. Since all the money is going to the relief fund, them spreading the word helps in ways most people don’t even realize. Here’s to the songs, the writers, the players and always the people of the Saints.”
Media Contacts for Kenny Chesney:
Ebie McFarland
Essential Broadcast Media, LLC
(615) 327-3259
Wes Vause
Blue Chair/Warner Bros. Nashville