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Kenny Chesney Was ‘Really Watching’, Not Bothered By, Beyonce at the 2016 CMAs

Kenny Chesney 2016 CMA Awards Pinnacle Award
Gustavo Caballero, Getty Images

After viewers mischaracterized Kenny Chesney‘s reaction to Beyonce‘s 2016 CMA Awards performance with the Dixie Chicks, the country star has spoken out to share his thoughts.

When Beyonce and the Chicks were onstage at the CMAs, performing “Daddy Lessons,” TV cameras panned throughout the audience to show reactions — including Chesney’s, which online commenters perceived as negative based on his facial expression and body language. But the “Setting the World on Fire” singer wants to set the record straight: He’s a fan of Queen Bey.

“I love Beyonce … I loved her Super Bowl performance, her sense of how to make the music hit really hard — and give it drama when she’s onstage,” Chesney says in a press release. “The idea her fans were so quick to judge me, or know what I was thinking, doesn’t feel like the woman I’ve always imagined Beyonce to be — and honestly, the people who love her music, either.”

The Pinnacle Award winner’s stoic expression, rather, was one of respect.

“As someone who believes in the message of ‘spread the love,’ we try to find the best in people — and in this case, that meant really watching the musicianship on that stage, as well as a guest in our format who’d written an incredible song,” Chesney continues. “I am amazed and saddened this is the response my respect for her art gets.

“I believe music is great or not,” Chesney concludes. “It has nothing to do with genre, gender or color. Just, did you bring it, and how great are your songs? To me, there’s no question about Beyonce — or my response to their performance.”

The drama over Chesney’s reaction to Beyonce and the Dixie Chicks’ performance hasn’t been the only controversy surrounding the talked-about performance: A number of fans disapproved of the performance, and an outcry from others began Thursday afternoon (Nov. 3), after some began to notice that social media mentions and CMA website video of the performance had been deleted. The CMA later responded, saying that the footage was removed at Beyonce’s request, and that the organization stands by their decision to ask Beyonce to perform at the awards show.

“If a program moves people so much one way or another, I think we’ve had a successful show,” CMA CEO Sarah Trahern says. “We believe in free speech, and people can post what they’re going to post. It’s about the music, not about politics.”

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