Country superstar Kenny Chesney has signed with Warner Music Nashville, leaving his longtime home of Sony Music Nashville.
“It is a big deal to change labels,” Chesney said in a statement, crediting Warner Music Nashville chairman/CEO John “Espo” Esposito, Warner Music Nashville senior VP A&R Cris Lacy and new Warner Music Group CEO, Recorded Music, Max Lousada, with shepherding the move. “But when you hear Max, Espo and Cris Lacy talk about music, about what it means and does, when you hear that passion, you can’t help but get fired up," he explained. "To me, music is only complete when it gets to the fans and becomes part of their lives. The people at Warner understand my commitment to that idea, and they’re just as committed to those ideals as I am.”
Following the release of his 1994 debut album on Capricorn, Chesney switched to RCA Nashville’s BNA imprint for 1995’s All I Need To Know. After RCA and Sony merged, he moved over to Sony’s Columbia Nashville via his Blue Chair imprint. Future releases will now be on Blue Chair Records/Warner Bros. Records.
The move comes as Chesney’s 2016 studio album, Cosmic Hallelujah, is up for best country album at the Jan. 28 Grammy Awards. Chesney’s latest release, Live In No Shoes Nation, debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Country albums chart in November, making it his 15th chart topper, with sales to date of 357,000 copies. He has sold more than 30 million albums, according to Nielsen Music. In October, he scored his 28th No. 1 single on Billboard's Country Airplay chart with "All The Pretty Girls."
“Kenny Chesney embodies the relentless pursuit of artistic freedom and expression,” Esposito said. “An unapologetic free spirit, he has built a career on perseverance, drive, innovation, and most especially, great songs. Everything he does is inspired. It is with deep respect and honor that we welcome Kenny to Warner Music Nashville. We couldn’t be more excited to work with him and his team.”
Lousada added, “Kenny’s not only a country music icon, but an American superstar, who’s still hungry to write, record, and perform amazing music that moves millions of people. The fact that he has chosen Warner Music as his new label home is a huge testament to the culture created by Espo and his team, who have made our Nashville operation a magnet for both emerging talent and established artists."
Chesney also remains a powerhouse on the road. His 2015 Big Revival tour grossed more than $114 million, according to Billboard Boxscore. Chesney’s Trip Around The Sun stadium tour kicks off April 21 in Tampa
His exit from Sony Nashville follows the departure of Carrie Underwood from the label to Universal Music Group Nashville last March and Jake Owen to Big Loud Records in November. Sony Music Nashville had no comment on the changes.