When Kenny Chesney walked off with the Entertainer of the Year honor for the fourth time in a row at Sunday’s Academy of Country Music Awards, he became only the second artist in history to claim the honor more than three consecutive times.See Also:
But it still set a precedent. This was the first time in the Academy’s 43-year awards history that the top trophy was voted on by fans, rather than by the music industry, a fact that was not lost on Kenny.
"Entertainer is about sacrifice, about the work, about what goes into creating the music, the tour," Kenny said after the show. "For me, I don’t want the fans considering how hard we work, or what goes into making this happen. I want them to come out and party with us; I want them to forget their troubles for a couple hours, to have the best time they may have all year and to maybe hear some of my songs on the radio and think, ‘Hey, that’s my life,’ not ‘Boy, he sure does put a lot of effort into all of this.’ That makes their experience about me, not them, their friends, their lives and this music I’ve been making."
The fan-voted Entertainer component produced a bit of controversy when Rascal Flatts offered a free MP3 download to fans who cast a ballot. The ACM, according to The Tennessean, identified those votes and took them away from the band, though no one has accused the group of breaking any rules.
Backstage, Kenny said he continued to respect the fans, but questioned the way the industry conducted itself, saying the Entertainer of the Year honor "should not be about what artist can push people’s buttons on the Internet. I think the Academy should really reconsider the way it does this award."
Kenny made sure everyone knew he remains friends with "them boys" in Rascal Flatts, and was seen laughing with them later. Flatts singer Gary LeVox, for the record, said "it’s about time" the fans got to vote on the award.
Brad Paisley, who was also an Entertainer finalist, maintained a very centrist viewpoint of the whole issue: "I’ll take whatever the Academy throws at us."
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