I knew the man.
I think he was second only to Dylan as a songwriter.
He had been in a coma after taking an overdose of muscle relaxants earlier this week, said the spokesman, Jem Cohen.
Mr. Chesnutt had a cracked, small voice but sang with disarming candor about a struggle for peace in a life filled with pain. A car crash at age 18 left him partly paralyzed, and he performed in a wheelchair.
The accident, he has said, focused him as a songwriter, and it became the subject of some of his earliest recordings. “I’m not a victim/Oh, I am an atheist,” Mr. Chesnutt sang in “Speed Racer,” from his first album, “Little,” produced by Michael Stipe of R.E.M. and released in 1990.
In a recent interview on the public radio show “Fresh Air,” he told Terry Gross: “It was only after I broke my neck and even like maybe a year later that I really started realizing that I had something to say.”