Kenny Chesney has a new title. The country singer is now a doctor after receiving an honorary doctorate from East Tennessee State University.
Kenny Chesney attended ETSU where he studied advertising and participated in the college’s bluegrass program until graduating in 1990. Upon graduating from college, the singer moved to Nashville to pursue his music dreams.
Within five years of moving to Music City, Chesney was well on his way to country music superstardom after landing a songwriting deal and later a major label recording contract.
In 1998, Chesney was presented with the Distinguished Alumnus in Arts award from ETSU during a concert for ETSU PRIDE Day at the Appalachian Fair in Gray, Tennessee.
Kenny Chesney was on hand Friday, October 21, to receive an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from East Tennessee State University in a special ceremony.
The ceremony was part of an event celebrating the 40th anniversary of the ETSU’s Bluegrass, Old-Time and Roots Music Studies program.
During his acceptance speech, Chesney joked that he will insist that his band and crew call him Dr. Chesney from now on.
“It’s going to be really interesting when we start work next year and I demand that my band and crew address me as Dr. Chesney,” the singer joked. “I don’t know how that’s gonna go over. I’m just gonna tell them, I’m not gonna respond to Kenny anymore.”
Kenny went on to tell the crowd how much it meant to him to be back at his alma mater to thank those who invested in him.
“This means a lot to me…to be able to be here and thank the people that really taught me a lot about music, about education…how important education is.”
Chesney added that the importance of education had been “burned into him” from a young age, and that his parents likely thought that he would pursue music for a couple of years then return home. He shared that he didn’t know how the decisions he made when he was young would impact his life in the long run.
“You don’t know it. You don’t think about it. You’re just trying to grow and learn. And when I made the decision to come to East Tennessee State I had no idea how much that decision would impact the rest of my life. Because I met a man named Jack Tottle….without Jack Tottle, the seed never would have been planted,” Chesney said.
“The dream started here,” Chesney told the crowd.
Kenny Chesney also showed his appreciation for the honor in a social media post
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Jack Tottle, who founded the university’s bluegrass program, also received an honorary doctorate alongside Chesney.
Watch Kenny Chesney’s moving acceptance speech in the video below.