Mark Chesnutt is one of Country’s true musical treasures. Critics have hailed him as a classic Country singer of the first order and some of Country music’s most elite entertainers, from George Jones to George Strait, echo the sentiment.
Mark Chesnutt’s stature is easily gauged. He has 14 No. 1 hits, 23 top ten singles, four platinum albums and five gold records to his credit; he maintains a front-and-center presence with a hefty tour schedule year after year.
Country music critics and fans alike need look no further when it comes to Country music basics. If you ask Chesnutt, he’ll tell you, “It’s the music and the fans that have kept me around this long.” In a creative forum that sometimes confuses style with substance, Mark Chesnutt possesses both. Remaining true to himself as a traditional country artist, while keeping the pace with the ever-changing country recording landscape, Mark Chesnutt has a knack for picking great songs, delivering them with world- class style and a heart-felt emotion that’s lived-in.
With a trademarked voice, Chesnutt has set the bar for his generation and those that follow in his footsteps shaping the music of today’s country music newcomers and the new country music format.
“Mark Chesnutt gave honky-tonk music back its soul,” noted music critic Robert K. Oermann. “When Chesnutt appeared on an arid musical landscape back in 1990, I dubbed him the hillbilly messiah.” Oermann stated. “I still feel that way today and I’ll feel that way decades from now.”
Now, some twenty-odd years later, Mark Chesnutt marches on to preserve and honor the splendid works of the sculpturing forefathers, George Jones and Waylon Jennings, to bring music from the honky tonks right back to where country music began.
Dubbed as one of the “most reliable country artists” (Craig Shelburne/CMT.com), Chesnutt does not disappoint. He is masterful in his natural ability to let his voice shape the words to create a moving musical motion picture (reminiscent of traditional country music standards such as Charlie Rich’s “Behind Closed Doors” and Vern Gosdin’s “Is It Raining At Your House”) and his current single, entitled “When The Lights Go Out (Tracie’s Song)” is the very essence of Chesnutt’s musical fiber as an autobiographical reflection of his life and loves-- country music and his wife, Tracie.
Chesnutt got his start in the honky-tonks of Beaumont, Texas, learning from his father, Bob Chesnutt, a singer, record collector and major fan of classic country music. Playing alongside his dad, Mark embraced his father’s influence one set at a time and to begin making a name for himself. Mark sang covers by Lefty, Merle, George and Waylon to develop his unmatched crowd- pleasing rapport and his authentic country style.
Bob Chesnutt often traveled to Nashville to record and to broaden his exposure. He began taking Mark along to record when he was just 17. After nearly a decade of recording on regional labels, word got out about this young country vocalist. Music Row executives came to hear Mark on his own Texas turf and recognized the depth of Mark Chesnutt’s raw talent. In 1989, he was signed to MCA Nashville and his list of accolades tells the rest of his story. With the release of his first single “Too Cold At Home,” Mark established himself as one of country’s most authentic and talented vocalists. He won the CMA Horizon Award attracting the attention of country legend [and Mark’s greatest mentor] George Jones who introduced him as “A boy from Beaumont, Texas who is the real deal.” That recognition and initial success opened the door to offer Mark his chance of a lifetime, to do what he loved most—sing country music for country fans; this time, on a national level. “The first couple years it was non-stop.” Mark says. “I can remember one time during a tour, I didn’t step foot on the front porch for ten months, with exception of a day or a day-and-a- half, then, it was right back out again.”
Mark’s dedication paid off. He developed a true blue fan base. Fans, he confides, “are the reason for my success.” His fans helped his records to climb the charts one right after the other making him one of Billboard’s Ten Most-Played Radio Artists of the ‘90’s. Mark’s singles were some the decade’s most memorable; from the fun tempo “Bubba Shot The Jukebox” to emotional ballad “I’ll Think Of Something.” Mark is easily identified for his string of hits including “Brother Jukebox,” “Blame It On Texas,” “Old Flames Have New Names,” “Old Country,” “It Sure Is Monday,” “Almost Goodbye,” “I Just Wanted You To Know,” “Going Through The Big D,” “It’s A Little Too Late,” “Gonna Get A Life,” and one of his biggest, “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing;” a song that held its position at the top of the charts for four consecutive weeks.
Of all the recorded highlights Chesnutt has enjoyed, they take a back seat to his first love; Mark Chesnutt lives to perform on stage. “I just make records because I want people to come see my show,” he says with a grin. “Recording music for folks to just listen to music is great,” he says, “but I’ve got to be out there on stage making it.” Fans who have seen him perform agree.
Known as one of the industry’s hardest-working concert performers, maintaining a hefty tour schedule and steady presence in front of his fans, Mark’s dedication to deliver live music is unsurpassed. Mark has been on the road since 1990. Whether you hear Mark Chesnutt with a new release on the radio, or see his face on the cover of a new CD, folks can always find Mark doing what he was born to do playing. “The clubs and honky tonks are home for me; it’s comfortable and I’m always with friends,” says Chesnutt.
Married since 1992, Mark and Tracie Chesnutt are the loving parents of three boys, Waylon, Casey and Cameron.