Kenny Chesney can now add the title of “Doctor” — well, “Honorary Doctor,” at least — to his resume. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from his alma mater, East Tennessee State University, in a special ceremony on Friday night (Oct. 21).
Chesney was there in person at the event, which also celebrated the 40th anniversary of the university’s Bluegrass, Old-Time and Roots Music Studies program, according to the Johnson City, Tenn.-based news outlet News Channel 11. Jack Tottle, who founded that program, was there to get an honorary degree alongside the country superstar.
During his time onstage, Chesney reflected on the impact the school’s music program have on his decision to pursue country music as a career.
“I didn’t know how to dream this way. It all started here,” the singer recounted. “I mean, I used to play at [local, now-defunct Mexican restaurant] Chucky’s Trading Post. I played at the Downhome. I played at a place called Quarterbacks BBQ here on the Tree Streets and there’s where all this started. It really is.”
After the ceremony, Chesney commemorated the big night with a post on social media, in which he shared some pictures and once again stressed how special the school and those early musical memories are to him.
“I am now a Doctor,” the caption of his post began. “Last night was so special. I would like to thank [ETSU President] Dr. Brian Noland, Dr. Jack Tottle, the Board of Trustees and the faculty and staff at East Tennessee State University for giving me an Honorary Doctorate. It felt so great to be back.”
Chesney graduated from ETSU in 1990. During his time as a student there, he participated in the school’s bluegrass program and studied advertising.
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