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When an artist looks back on his or her own career, there are always moments he or she can point to where there was a shift to another level. Those defining moments tend to be easy to spot with the benefit of hindsight but more difficult to see without the passage of time. Yet Chris Young has a sense that something is happening.
“I really do believe in timing,” says Young. “Everybody has a different point in their career when things start to come together and click, when it’s your time.”
With the release of his third studio album, NEON , Chris Young leaves no doubt. Now is his time.
How’s this for everything clicking – NEON’s first single, “Tomorrow,” one of an impressive seven songs on the album co-written by Young, is the fastest-rising hit of his career. The cut raced to the top of the charts and is certified Digital Gold by the RIAA for sales exceeding 500,000 downloads.
And as far as timing – Young’s career is ticking like a Swiss watch. The last four singles Chris Young has released have all hit #1 on the charts, including “Tomorrow” and the smash hit “Gettin’ You Home,” a song that earned him his first-ever Grammy nomination. All signs are pointing skyward as NEON debuted at #4 on the all genre Billboard Top 200 chart with more than 72,000 first week fans declaring their devotion to Young. He’s also been fêted by the media with glowing review in USA Today, People, Associated Press and Billboard in addition to high profile TV appearances on Good Morning America, Jimmy Kimmel Live! and Fox & Friends.
While all the sales numbers, accolades and awards are certainly appreciated, what Young values most about this time in his life is that he can make a living doing what he loves most.
“Music is why I’m here and it’s something I can’t live without,” says Young. “It’s what I’m built to do.”
That thrill of entertaining took hold of Young at an early age. His first moments on a stage involved acting in school plays, but it wasn’t long before he realized he wanted to showcase a different talent in the spotlight. “I love to sing,” admits Young. “I was the kid in high school who lived and breathed music every moment of every day.”
Totally focused on making his passion a career, Young was playing 150 dates a year by the time he went off to college to major in music. While dead serious about the subject of his studies, he soon felt the need to get a different kind of higher education.
“I did the thing all parents love to hear,” says Young with a mischievous gleam in his eye. “I dropped out of school and started making music full time. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that music is what drives me and it was what I had to do.”
The honky tonk school of hard knocks – including a PhD‐level class fronting a seven‐piece band on a run through Texas ‐‐ and countless hours honing his craft at writer’s nights in Nashville paid off with a record deal and debut on RCA. The self‐titled album would go on to earn Young the title of best‐selling new male artist for 2006 and a nod for the Academy of Country Music’s Top New Male Vocalist award.
Young doubled‐down on the success of his first record with the release of his second CD, The Man I Want To Be. Any concern over maintaining momentum vanished when the album powered right through the dreaded sophomore slump with three back‐to‐back #1 singles.
The impressive streak started with the title‐track, picked up steam with “Gettin’ You Home,” and was then followed by a song that would earn Chris Young a place into the history books. “Voices” was originally the first single released from Man. It made its initial run up the chart in late 2008 but stalled just inside the Top 40. When the label made the decision to give it a second go two years later, it soared all the way to #1.
“The last time (that) happened was 25‐years ago with ‘On The Other Hand’ for Randy Travis,” beams Young, thrilled to have that connection with one his musical heroes.
All the chart success quickly earned Young the attention of his peers. He was tapped as an opening act for Alan Jackson and Rascal Flatts, where he learned a few tricks of the trade from two very successful entertainers with very different styles. “It’s such a great opportunity as an artist,” says Young. “To hang with those guys and watch them perform every night and see how they engage their fans.” Chris will have another chance to learn a few more tricks and earn several thousand more admirers when he joins Jason Aldean on his My Kinda Party Tour in July.
Young’s all‐around accomplishments as an entertainer also earned him one the industry’s highest honors: his first‐ever Grammy nomination for Best Male Country Vocal Performance for “Gettin' You Home.”
“It was so cool and humbling to receive a Grammy nomination,” remembers Young. “It’s one of those moments I’ll never forget. It’s exciting to have your name in the hat. Win or not, it confirms that you’re doing something right.”
To insure that he continued doing “something right” with the new record, Young made sure a trusted friend and seasoned pro was with him in the studio. James Stroud, the veteran producer who worked with Young on Man, was back again for NEON.
“Until it stops working, I honestly don’t want anyone else to produce my albums. It’s so inspiring to be able to work with someone who you have that much admiration for and that much respect for in the studio.”
Neon is a country album made for the modern age but delivered by a classic performer with total confidence in his craft.
“I get to do exactly what I love, which is write and create and put it in permanent ink,” Young says with a grin. “We didn’t put it in pencil.”