Nashville Star

Not all aspiring country musicians are graced with the good fortune to grow up near Nashville, but Chris Young was immersed in the music since childhood, living in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

He always loved singing and was schooled on the country music legends of days past by his grandfather, gaining a deeper appreciation for the music.

“I always really did love singing and playing music,” Young said. “A lot of that started with me sitting in the car and listening to Randy Travis songs and stuff like that. When I’d go to see my grandfather — he still to this day has a music room in his house — he’d play piano and guitar and he would play me 45s and 78s of Marty Robbins and Lefty Frizzell. I kind of got my history lesson of country music from him, but I just loved music in general. I loved to sing and I was like, ‘Hey, I think this is something I really want to pursue.”

In his teens, Young perused town trying to find a writers’ circle to join and honed his skills.

“I was playing any writers’ night I could get ahold of,” he said. “So I was playing wherever I could, whenever I could, and linked up with Larry Wayne Clark, who unfortunately is no longer with us, and a couple other people who taught me the craft of songwriting. I knew how to put words together, but I really had to figure out how to make that a song and stick a melody with a cadence with a structure to the words. I was really lucky that I got to be around Nashville, growing up in an area that is full of songwriting talent and passion.”

His musical journey led him to audition for “Nashville Star,” a reality T.V. singing competition. Young ended up winning season 4 of the show in 2006, earning a recording contract with RCA Records as his prize.

“There’s probably a lot of people now that have no idea I was on that show because it was so long ago,” Young said. “But I think the people that watched me on there are probably a huge part of why I’m still around because they went out and bought the record and were championing me and my music. I think that was just the route that I was supposed to take and I’m really grateful for everybody who has followed me that long.”

Young released his self-titled debut album later that year, which produced the singles “Drinkin’ Me Lonely” and “You’re Gonna Love Me.” He didn’t garner any hits on the album, but Young didn’t have to wait too much longer for that.

His next album, “The Man I Want to Be,” came out in 2009, with the first single “Voices” preceding the album in 2008. His next single, “Getting’ You Home (The Black Dress Song)” was the one he had been waiting for. It hit No. 1 and is still one of his signature songs.

“I just think there’s something special about that song,” Young said. “Even now that song has been viral on Tik Tok. As long as it took me to get to the point where I had my first No. 1, I’m really proud that that song is still important to a lot of people. Whenever I play it on stage it gets an immediate reaction.”

He followed that with four more consecutive No. 1 hits, including “The Man I Want to Be,” a re-release of “Voices,” “Tomorrow” and “You.”

Young said he can usually feel it when he’s got a hit on his hands.

“I either feel it immediately, or if I’ve got a question about it, I’ll wait 24 hours and then play it again,” he said. “That’s normally when I know. Like when I wrote ‘Tomorrow’ it was like that. I was like, ‘I think this is a hit. I’m going to give myself 24 hours and then go back and listen to it fresh.’ Just the guitar vocal of that, I was like, ‘Yeah, this is the first single off this new record.’ So I do think it’s a gut instinct. I don’t think anyone can be right 100% of the time, but I feel like my instincts are pretty good about that.”

His latest album, “Famous Friends,” was certainly another smashing success for the singer. He collaborated with a few other performers for the 2021 release, as well as for the 2022 extended version of the album.

The title track, featuring Young’s good buddy Kane Brown, hit No. 1 on the charts and was an especially fun song for the two stars. When making the music video, they both added some of their real-life friends, who are mentioned in the song lyrics, into the video.

“Megan, who I reference in the second verse, is in there,” Young said. “We put some of KB’s friends in the video as well. We thought that would be cool. The guy that I call Brandon, I don’t think I’ve ever actually called him Brandon in my life, he goes by Bubba. I’ve known him since I was a teenager and he’s actually the guy in the firefighter getup at the end of the video. He was just playing it up for the camera. Somebody asked me, ‘Is that guy an actor? Did y’all hire him to come in and do that?’ I’m like, ‘No, he’s actually a firefighter and that’s actually his personality. He’s like that 100% of the time.”

The deluxe album, which came out in June, features six new tracks, including “Music Note” with Jimmie Allen and “Everybody Needs A Song” with Old Dominion. It also includes two new solo songs as well as acoustic versions of fan favorites, “I’m Comin’ Over” and “Think of You” with Cassadee Pope.

“I’d already had a couple of guests and once we decided to extend the album, we decided to lean into that with the album being called ‘Famous Friends,’” Young said. “It was never a concept album and obviously there’s plenty of songs on the record where I’m solo, but I just wanted to take advantage of it and have as many of my friends on it that I can. Asking Old Dominion and Jimmie Allen to join on some songs, I thought was a really cool way to do that.”

Of course Young never stops writing new music and another album is in the works.

“There’s no sort of concept for this one,” he said. “It’s just songs that I love. There’s a lot of stuff topically, that I haven’t necessarily touched on, then there’s some songs that are exactly what you would expect from me. There’s definitely love songs on there, so it’s going to be fun.

“It used to be, you would wait, the album would be out, you’d get through the two-year cycle of that record and then you’d start a new one. Now, with the advent of so many songs that go viral randomly or stream heavily, it only benefits you as an artist to put out as much music as possible. That’s why you see albums with 14-20 songs on it. In the beginning of my career, that would have been a double album, but that’s become the norm.”

Fans don’t have to wait for the new album to catch Young in concert, as he’s coming to the Laughlin Event Center Saturday, Nov. 12 to do what he loves most — perform live.

“They’re going to hear all of the hits that I’ve got, which is all because people wanted to hear them in the first place on the radio,” he said. “We’ll throw in one or two things that will be suprises, maybe a cover or two, but we’re just going to have fun. A really amazing crowd can make you elevate what you’re doing. Being a creative, you love giving energy and getting that energy back from the crowd. It’s just so much fun.”