May 22, 2008 / 12:39 AM / 10 years ago

Kenny Chesney says award comments "spun" by media

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Kenny Chesney, who touched off a furor at the Academy of Country Music Awards by telling reporters that his entertainer of the year award had been “diminished” by Internet fan voting, says his remarks have been misconstrued.

Chesney, writing about the controversy in a blog entry on his official MySpace page, told his fans his much-discussed comments were not aimed at them and were shared by others in the country music industry.

“Sure, to make me sound ungrateful is a sexy way to spin this and drive viewers. It’s a controversy and that sells,” Chesney wrote on Tuesday.

“But realistically -- and based on the response in our fan forum -- you know how important you are to me, how much I believe in the way we’ve all built this together,” he wrote. “You, the fans, are the reason I keep pushing, keep striving, keep wanting to be more and better.”

Chesney was named entertainer of the year a fourth time on Sunday night, during the 43rd Annual Academy of Country Music Awards, in the first year that fans were allowed to choose the winner by voting on the Internet.

Singer Kenny Chesney performs at the 43rd Annual Academy of Country Music Awards show in Las Vegas, Nevada May 18, 2008. REUTERS/Steve Marcus

The top-selling country singer told reporters backstage in response to a question that Web voting had cheapened the show’s top prize.

“I don’t think it’s right that they picked the one award that means the most, that all the artists sacrificed the most for, and turned it into ... a sweepstakes, to seeing who can push people’s buttons the hardest on the Internet,” he said.

“It’s a complete disrespect of the artists. I think because of that it really diminishes the integrity of the work.”

Chesney’s remarks made worldwide headlines and a Los Angeles Times blogger even asked readers to vote on whether the 40-year-old singer, best known for such hits as “There Goes My Life” and “You Had Me From Hello,” should return his award.

On his blog, Chesney said that in speaking to reporters backstage he was trying to say that he wanted fans to enjoy the music and let the music industry handle awards judging.

“And that’s what I was being asked about ... what a lot of people in the business were talking about and frankly something an awful lot of artists and business people have told me they not only agree with but something the entire media room applauded pretty resoundingly after I addressed it Sunday night.”


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