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Chris Young
Self Produced
Current album: I Wish I Was Lyin'

If I were to say everything that I really think about this phenomenal new artist, you would accuse me of being on his payroll. But, ya know what? I just can't keep quiet about Chris Young.

After reviewing country music albums for the past eight years, I think I've established enough credibility that you know you can trust what I say. Oh yes, I might remind you at this point (some of you for a second time) that the last artist I got this excited about was the breathtakingly handsome, personable and extraordinarily talented, Joe Nichols. I, accurately and loudly, predicted that he was going to put a new face on the country music industry, and he has, his very own gorgeous face. Without reservation, I laid my career on the line by saying that he was the most talented and charismatic new artist to stroll in to Nashville in decades.

Well, here I am again, fearlessly predicting with 100% confidence that Young qualifies as an absolute peer of Nichols and I'll go a step further by saying that I think Young may be the only artist capable of standing toe to toe with Nichols when it comes to charisma and talent, and be able to match him, point for point. I also think Young just might be the only new artist to come along since Nichols that is going to make sure that Nichols has to stay on his own toes. Phenomenal, when speaking about Nichols or Young, is an understatement.

By the way, I'm confident that I know what I'm talking about because I worked with Nichols for a few years starting when he was just nineteen and I worked with him as his publicist, webmaster, booking agent and "Om" (other mother) until he moved to Nashville. I still love him dearly and he will always hold a special place in my heart.

Chris Young just turned nineteen last week and it is so exciting to see in him, that same creative, charismatic energy that I saw (and still see) in Joe Nichols. I've been singing the praises of Nichols for close to a decade and I'm not about to stop now but I do want to switch gears here and tell you just a few of the things about Young that I think guarantees he will be a success at whatever he decides to do.

Young not only wrote, or co-wrote, three of the songs on his first album (titled A Little at a Time) but he co-produced the album, did all the artwork himself, released it on his own label, and distributed it himself. Did I mention that he wasn't even out of high school yet? And while doing all this as a hobby, he managed to maintain straight A's in high school and in 2003 he was one of only two Presidential Scholars to be recognized in the Arts category by the President of the United States from a pool of 2.9 million graduating seniors.

If you aren't impressed yet, let me tell you a little about his current album; his second, titled I Wish I Was Lyin'. He worked hard to get it released just prior to the CMA Fest/Fan Fair. He had a hand in co-writing nine of the ten songs on this album, co-produced it, selected the art work and design layout and handled the distribution on his own label; does this sound familiar? I think that if you were to sum all this up in one word, it would be spelled B-R-I-L-L-I-A-N-T.

Oh yes, did I mention that he is extremely handsome and well over six feet tall? And for all you single girls out there, he is available.

Despite his busy schedule during the CMA Fest, he took time to sit down with us and when I asked what he had been doing he said, "Well, I played over 100 dates across the country last year in addition to working on the new album and writing songs and going to school."

I interrupted him with, "School?"

"Yes, he continued, "I'm enrolled now at Belmont University as a music business major." (no surprise, there)

About songwriting: He says he really doesn't have a set method. "For songwriting in general, sometimes ideas will just pop in my head. I'll give you an example from one of the songs on this album that I just did. On the song 'See Me Cry,' that entire song popped into my head and I wrote the lyrics in thirty-five minutes."

(By the way, he says that with a totally straight face, like it's no big deal.)

"Sometimes I will just hear a word or a sentence that sounds like a good hook and I'll end up writing a song around it. Other times, I'm so close to the subject that I might not see it. Just like on 'He's My Dad,' I actually said something to another songwriter in a conversation we were having and he turned to me and said 'That's the song we're writing today.' I asked him what he was talking about and he said, ‘What you just said.’ And ya know, we worked on that song for several days just to get it right. At other times I'll just get an idea for a song but I guess usually the songs come from experience; most of the time from my own."

About producing his own albums: "Previously, I have been doing this other places but little by little I have been purchasing the pieces that I need for my home PC system. I'm not wealthy so it's been a slow process. I've got most of the software to run it all through my computer now. I still need a couple of pieces but pretty soon, I'll be able to do almost everything I need to."

About how he came to know so much about all the various facets of the whole process: "I guess I have been really, really lucky and blessed to meet the right people at the right time when I was at a place where there was something I needed to learn from them." Paused to smile, thought for a moment and then he continued, "I still have a lot to learn and I want to keep learning and I'm fortunate that I can still learn from a lot of the people that I hang out with. I want to be able to produce, to engineer, to write, to play guitar and I want to be able to sing better than I do now."

(Yep, he said that with a straight face too.)

Well, that's a pretty tall order. But then, Young is a pretty tall guy and I have a feeling he isn't going to have any problems at all reaching all those high goals he has set for himself.

My Ma always told me that "hunger is a great motivator." When I look at Young I see, metaphorically speaking, a very hungry young man. The more he learns, the more he wants to learn. The better he sings, the better he wants to sing and although he has tried, and been successful, in every musical genre including rap, he loves country music; it really is his passion.

So, here we go, you know the drill because we did this once before when I predicted big things from another mega-talented, handsome newcomer. Same process just a different name. Write this down: C-H-R-I-S Y-O-U-N-G. The name is easy to remember but the voice will be impossible to forget.


Feature article by Cheryl Harvey Hill

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