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Kenny Chesney Reflects on Jonathan Demme: ‘I Learned So Much Watching Him’

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Jonathan Demme was an esteemed film director, and his work impressed many people. Kenny Chesney in particular recalls working together on an American Express Unstaged concert event in 2012.

“Jonathan Demme understood how to capture music on film in a way that kept the heart and the energy intact,” Chesney tells Rolling Stone about working with the legendary filmmaker. Demme died on Wednesday (April 26) from cancer and heart disease. He was 73.

“I learned so much watching him work when he shot our show in Wildwood, N.J., about songs I already knew — and his love for how music looks when it’s being played live has stayed with me,” Chesney adds.

The country star’s Unstaged show was live-streamed on YouTube from Wildwood Beach, N.J., and reached people globally, but even more impressive, 20,000 fans showed up to see the concert in person. Chesney, a 2017 Country Jam headliner, performed almost 30 songs from his expansive catalog, including classics like “You and Tequila,” “Somewhere With You” and his early hit “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy.” The release of the film was in partnership with the launch of Chesney’s 2012 album, Welcome to the Fishbowl, which topped Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart and includes the two Top 10 singles “Come Over” and “El Cerrito Place.”

Demme was best known for his Academy Award-winning films The Silence of the Lambs and Philadelphia.

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