Start writing your acceptance speech, Kenny Chesney – you’ve won another award!
Though the first-ever American Country Countdown Awards aren’t until Dec. 15, PEOPLE has learned exclusively that Chesney will receive the Groundbreaker Award, honoring his creative innovation, musical accomplishments and role in expanding the genre.
“The Groundbreaker Award recognizes how Kenny has revolutionized the live music experience for country fans,” says Mark Bracco, executive vice president of programing and development at Dick Clark Productions. “He is a true groundbreaker, moving country music into new directions with his pioneering, record-breaking tours that have propelled him into one of the very biggest live performing artists in America. Kenny is the perfect recipient for our very first show.”
Chesney, 46, who just released a new holiday tune, has sold more than 1 million tickets to each of his past 11 headlining tours and is country’s biggest ticket-seller to date. But he’ll be able to find the time to pick up his award in person at Nashville’s Music City Center next month.
“To be given the first of any special award is a great honor because you know they’ve really thought about it,” Chesney tells PEOPLE. “What they want that award to mean or represent, and how you do that. Given what they’re saying the Groundbreaker Award means, I’m honored that’s how the ACC Awards sees me. I try to push what we’ve done, give the fans the best night of the summer – and hopefully, we can keep making the music better and more interesting to give them a reason to come back.”
The American Country Countdown Awards will air live on Monday, Dec. 15, at 8 p.m. ET on FOX.