In his early career, Jim Chesnut thrilled music industry insiders and audiences across the nation with his songwriting and vocal talent. Wesley Rose, President of Acuff-Rose Music, Inc., signed him, in part, because Roy Acuff was willing to allow Jim to take his place on the full roster at Hickory Records (distributed at the time by MGM).
When Charley Pride endorsed Chesnut’s first album (Let Me Love You Now on ABC/Hickory Records) he said, “He has a tremendous talent for writing, and as you can see from this album for delivering a good country song, also.”
Pride was the first major artist to record and release a Chesnut song (Oklahoma Morning) shortly before Jim was signed as an exclusive staff writer for Acuff-Rose, the firm that produced such songwriting greats as Hank Williams, Mickey Newbury, Eddy Raven, Don Gibson, Roy Orbison and The Everly Brothers.
From that point, Chesnut, in what proved to be an unwise career decision, reserved all of his material for his own use as a recording artist. He wrote most of the songs for the 10 top-100 singles and two albums he released in the late 1970s and early 1980s. One of those songs, Show Me a Sign, was nominated for a Grammy by his label in 1979.
Chesnut, represented by Bob Neal (Elvis Presley’s first manager) and the venerable William Morris Agency, performed in nightclubs and concerts, appearing with such folks as Willie Nelson, Charley Pride, Rodney Crowell, Mickey Newbury, Tom T. Hall, Bobby Bare, Con Hunley, Danny Davis & the Nashville Brass, Sammi Smith, Don Williams, Ed Bruce, Gene Watson, Moe Bandy, Don Everly, Eddie Raven, Larry Gatlin, Dottie West, Reba McEntire, Janie Fricke, Lorrie Morgan, B.J. Thomas, Pat and Debby Boone, Ernest Tubb, Grandpa Jones, Jan Howard, Helen Cornelius and a number of other Grand Ole Opry stars.
Chesnut’s emerging career was muted in the early 1980s. After charting ten songs in a five-year period in Billboard Magazine’s Top-100 Country Chart, Chesnut left Nashville and returned to Texas to deal with alcohol addiction. Now, almost 35-years-sober and a successful career in marketing communications, he is writing and recording like never before.
In the past two years, Jim Chesnut has established himself as an up-and-coming re-discovered country singer/songwriter in national secondary market radio music playlists.
For example, in December 2013, his single, Get Aboard a Catamaran, reached #12 in the New Music Weekly indie and country charts. In 2014, Chesnut’s CD, Troubadours and Dreamers, was listed as a top-30 album for the year in the Roots Music Report (RMR) True Country Album Chart, with the single, Oklahoma Morning, reaching #6 in RMR’s True Country Singles Chart and #10 in the New Music Weekly Country Singles Chart. In 2015, his Another Day in the Life of a Fool debuted at #1 in RMR’s True Country Singles Chart and remained in the top five for several weeks.
His 2016 album, This Guy Sings!, is his fourth self-produced CD since 2008. He has found his place as a true country artist in the spectrum of country music performers that exists today. The first single from the new album, Lost and Found Love, is an example of what true country music is. It is a song about two people finding love with new partners and is sung to a two-step dance beat with a memorable melody.
According to the American Psychological Association 40 to 50 percent of American first marriages end in divorce, and the divorce rates for subsequent marriages are even higher. As a songwriter, Chesnut is focused on telling the human story . . . a story that includes marriage, divorce, infidelity, death, faith gained and lost, joy, sadness, hope, despair, etc. He believes that a good story is essential to building a loyal audience.
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