Kenny Chesney praises Taylor Swift: “I’m so proud of you”

Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Kenny Chesney

Hot on the heels of Taylor Swift being named TIME‘s Person of the Year, Kenny Chesney took to social media to share a heartfelt congratulatory message to his longtime friend.

“Taylor, I knew looking in your eyes that first time on stage with us, you had ‘it,'” Kenny captioned an Instagram post, which featured throwback photos of him and Taylor. “The hunger, that something special… A gift not everyone has to connect. It’s been awesome watching you shine! Congratulations on being @TIME’s Person of the Year.”

He added, “I’m glad TIME sees what I’ve always loved about your music, your art and you as a human being. I’m so proud of you and I love you.”

Kenny’s shoutout arrives after Taylor told TIME about the generosity he extended to her in her earlier days.

Taylor, then 17, was slated to open for Kenny on tour. However, because a beer company sponsored the tour and she was underage, she had to withdraw. “I was devastated,” Taylor recounts to TIME

Then on her 18th birthday, the “I Go Back” hitmaker surprised Taylor with a handsome check and card that read: “I’m sorry that you couldn’t come on the tour, so I wanted to make it up to you.”

“It was for more money than I’d ever seen in my life,” Taylor recalls. “I was able to pay my band bonuses. I was able to pay for my tour buses. I was able to fuel my dreams.”

You can read Taylor’s full interview with TIME now at time.com.

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