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Kenny Chesney, Hank Jr added to ‘American Country Countdown Awards’

Kenny Chesney, the only country artist in Billboard’s Top 10 Touring Acts of the Last 25 Years, trio Lady Anbellum and, in a rare television performance, country legend Hank Williams, Jr. will join previously announced performers Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Kelly Clarkson, Brett Eldredge, Florida Georgia Line, Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood on the inaugural American Country Countdown Awards airing live from Nashville’s Music City Center on Monday, December 15th from 8-10 pm ET live/PT tape-delayed on FOX.

Chesney, deemed “the People’s Superstar” by The Los Angeles Times, will perform his latest single, “Til It’s Gone,” before receiving the Groundbreaker Award for innovation, excellence and expanding the country music genre. The award will be presented by actor/producer/writer Vince Vaughn.

“They told me this award recognizes taking country new places and to a lot of new people,” Chesney said. “The truth is: all I did was sing songs I’d lived – and I knew people like me had lived. Show people their lives as a desirable thing, right where they are, and do a show that says, ‘We’re all here to have the best night of the summer,’ and they’re going to respond. So when I was trying to figure out what to sing, ‘Til It’s Gone’ felt right. It’s a song about being committed to the people you love, no matter what – and that’s how I feel about every single member of the No Shoes Nation.”

“Til It’s Gone” hit Billboard’s Top 5 this week. It follows “American Kids,” his Grammy Award-nominated, two-week No. 1 from The Big Revival, up the charts. The Big Revival is Chesney’s 13th Billboard Country Album Chart No. 1 debut.

“Connecting with the fans is what drives me,” Chesney explains. “Whatever we give them, they give us back double. That inspires everything we do. When I was cutting ‘Til It’s Gone,’ even though it’s a love song between two people, I always heard it as a song to the No Shoes Nation: ‘One life, one chance, one ticket to the big dance/ You and me, hanging on, right down to the last song…’ What other song would I do for an award that’s as much the fans’ as it is for me and the guys?”

“Connecting with the fans is what drives me.”

Hosted by Florida Georgia Line’s Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard, American Country Countdown Awards is based on country music’s longest-running radio countdown show, American Country Countdown with Kix Brooks, and will honor country music’s biggest stars based on album sales and radio airplay. Presenters for the inaugural show include country artists Kix Brooks, Sara Evans, Hunter Hayes, Maddie & Tae, Scotty McCreery, Kip Moore, Thomas Rhett, Chase Rice, Cole Swindell and Chris Young. NASCAR’s Jimmie Johnson, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher and 2014 National League MVP Clayton Kershaw, actors Emily Kinney (“The Walking Dead”) and Melissa Fumero (Brooklyn Nine-Nine) and Miss America 2015 Kira Kazantsev will also present.

The two-hour show will also honor multimedia entertainer Reba with the first-ever NASH Icon Award, presented by Kix Brooks, which celebrates an iconic artist whose extraordinary talent has influenced generations of musicians and who has made a profound and lasting impact on country music. Kelly Clarkson and Miranda Lambert will join together to honor Reba with a special tribute performance.

American Country Countdown Awards finalists and winners, other than Breakthrough Artist of the Year, are determined based on statistics and radio airplay charts from November 1, 2013 through October 31, 2014. The finalists for Album of the Year were based on album sales from SoundScan and the finalists for Artist of the Year were based on a combination of Mediabase airplay, digital data provided by Big Champagne and tour information from Pollstar. All other award categories were made up of those with the largest audience reach, according to Mediabase.