KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The lead singer of the rock band Shinedown received a key to Knox County during a recent show in Knoxville.

Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs presented Brent Smith with the key during their show at Thompson-Boling Arena. It was a bit of a homecoming for the class of ’96 South Doyle graduate. Jacobs said the key was made by students at Smith’s alma mater.

“Knoxville has taught me so much over the time that I grew up here and I always come back here,” Smith said. “I wouldn’t trade my time at South Doyle for anything and to have the kids there put something together that like for me; I’m very grateful and humbled by that.”

Smith said getting the key was a complete surprise. Zach Myers, the band’s guitar player and John Guarnieri, their head of security, wrote a letter to Jacobs. This is what lead to the key presentation coming about.

“Honestly the amount of gratitude that I have and just the depth of how much of an honor it was for me to experience that in my hometown. I’m still trying to process it because it meant a lot to me – it still means a lot to me. But it was a complete surprise. I had absolutely no idea,” said Smith.

Smith added that it is hard to keep a secret from the rest of the band and the crew on the road. He gives kudos to his band and crew for doing just that.

Shinedown was formed by Smith in 2001. The band has the most number one singles in the 41-year history of the Billboard Mainstream Rock charts. To date, the band has sold more than 10 million records.

“At the end of the day, it really just matters if what you write is compelling and people identify with it and you can connect to an audience,” Smith said. “That’s what we’ve tried to do for the last 20 years, that’s what we’re going to continue to do for the next 20 years and the next 20 or however long we’re able to do this.”