Kenny Chesney's highly-anticipated Songs for the Saints album is finally out. The record, released on July 27, is his most personal, taking him from songs about love, drinking and fun to the resilience of the human spirit.
Inspired by the tragic Hurricane Irma, which wreaked havoc on the St. John island he calls home, causing devastation to thousands of people, Chesney began to write Songs for the Saints while he was in Nashville, unsure if his friends, including the people living in his own home, had survived.
"It was a really, really scary time," Chesney tells Nashville's Tennessean. "All that anxiety and all that fear made me hyper-focused to a point where I became it. I would get up every day, go into the studio and make this record. I've never made a record that was so in the moment, and I think you can hear that angst and I think you can hear the anxiety."
The Tennessee native not only organized and funded relief efforts, flying in resources, clearing roads, and rescuing people from their home, he provided musical instruments to children, to give them something fun to do in the midst of the chaos. He also partnered with an animal rescue group to fly more than 1400 dogs to the United States so they could be rescued.
"People can disappoint you, animals never will," Chesney says. "I never thought I would have been in a position to do that. But it's only because of music that I'm in that spot. It's been an unbelievable experience."
Songs for the Saints includes Chesney's the No. 1 single, "Get Along," which is also Chesney's 30th time to sit at the top of the charts.
"When I heard 'Get Along,' it encapsulated so much of what Songs for the Saints is about," Chesney says of the tune, written by Shane McAnally, Ross Copperman, and Josh Osborne, and one of only a handful that Chesney didn't write for the project. "Horrible things can happen, but what's been so inspiring about the people of the Virgin Islands is even facing a storm with over 200 mile an hour winds, they somehow not only faced it, but kept their joy as they committed to the long, grueling work of cleaning up and rebuilding. We could all use some of that in our souls."
One woman, Jenn Manes, a blogger and tour guide at St. John's, was on the roof of a pizza place – the only spot she could get a bit of cell reception – when she got a message from her father.
"Kenny's team is on the way," she read. "You're all going to be OK."
For Chesney, Songs for the Saints became as much for him as it did for those in need of help.
"When you think about all the people it could help and how it could help change their psyche and give healing, [Songs for the Saints] is probably the most important record I've ever made," Chesney says. "I hope they get as much healing out of listening to it as I did from making it."0comments
Proceeds from Songs for the Saints will go to Chesney's Love for Love City Fund, to continue in the ongoing recovery efforts. Purchase Songs for the Saints at KennyChesney.com.
Photo Credit: EB Media/Allister Ann