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What's Age Got To Do With It?
Interview With Country Artist Chris Young
By Rikk Matheson, Rikks Reviews
(more articles from this author)
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Looking back through time in country music, age has, at times, had nothing to do with whether or not someone makes it in the music biz. A few prime examples in country music alone are Tanya Tucker and Lee Ann Rimes, both who continued to do well after their initial jumpstart. There have been some other cases. One of the most memorable in my mind would be pop queen of the moment in the 80s, Tiffany. If you don't remember her and her mega-smash, "I Think We're Alone Now," I think you should consider yourself one of the lucky ones.

The defining element should always be talent, in this writers opinion. It should not weigh on the "cuteness" factor at all, because that will be lost as the individual gets older and if there is no real talent, the individual will get lost on the rack and fade into obscurity. No one wants that to happen, but it often does, as is the case with a lot of child actors as well as performers in all areas of entertainment. Talent should be the only element measured when it comes to performers and artists. As much as it can be a benefit to some young wannabes, age can also become a barricade to others who have the real talent to become stars. That brings us to the story at hand.

Chris Young may not be a name you have heard of, at least not yet! This is one young man who is ready to climb the ladder to super-star status. Chris Young already excels in his craft and is sure to be noticed by some powerful people soon, but is that soon enough? Well, I would have to say yes, but to keep an incredible talent down simply because of their age is almost a sin. Chris Young has a raw talent, a velvety baritone voice that many other artists would love to have, even just a portion of. A delivery that is just as clean, and a budding songwriter with more than just a pocketful of talent. Once you hear Chris Young, you will not soon forget him, the engaging style of pure country runs through his entire being. If you are in the Nashville area regularly, or live close by, chances are you may have heard or seen Chris Young, but the problem arises if you don't, the name may not even ring a bell, but as I stated that will not be the case for long.

I first heard of Chris Young last year, right about the same time he released the CD A Little At A Time, an eight song debut that far surpassed that of other debuts last year. Hearing Chris Young for the first time you would swear you are listening to a seasoned veteran of country music as he lays out his talent for all who will listen. There is no way you would think of a man in his later teenage years, not even a little. The vocal styling and professionalism rival that of many stars that have been around the scene longer than Chris Young has been able to pick up a guitar. I got the opportunity to ask Chris a few questions, which I was honored to do. I will be attending the CMA Music Festival (formerly Fan Fair) and as I found Chris would be there this year, I decided to take full advantage of this opportunity to introduce him to the fans that make their trek to Music City USA.

I am sure after reading this interview and hearing some clips from his debut CD, you will understand why I am so excited about this young and extremely talented young artist. Chris Young has a passion and energy in his music that shines brilliantly through. I am sure you will feel the same way about him, and if you are in Nashville and you see the name Chris Young advertised for any number of venues, including the Bluebird Cafe, the Sutler, Tin Pan South, Douglas Corner, The Hall of Fame Lounge among others, the name will now have a meaning and you will catch this rising star on his way up. Chris Young has a passion for music, and the soul of pure country is evident in every song that he delivers to the listener. Traces of Trace Adkins and Randy Travis are evident in the unique voice of Chris Young. Enjoy the interview, and be sure to check out some clips of Chris Young's music following the Q & A.

Here is the result of the interview. Time to find out what goes on in the life of Chris Young and find out a bit more about who he is.

[Rikk's Reviews] Your voice is unique and pure country. I'm sure some other aspiring singers would like to know, what do you do to keep your voice in top shape?

Chris Young I sing for at least four hours every single day. Whether it be with the radio, for a performance, during a songwriting session, or just on my own for no reason, singing is such a big part of my life that it would be almost impossible for me to not do it.

[Rikk's Reviews] Chris, Can you tell me when it was you first knew you wanted to be a country performer?

Chris Young The first time I really knew I wanted to sing country is when I started seriously performing other styles of music. I have a love for country that is absent when I perform in other genres. I went to New York last year as part of the six-member Grammy Jazz Choir, and all I could think about was that Trick Pony was in the room (at the Grammy party) listening to me sing JAZZ. It was almost painful to me. I like singing all styles of music, but I love country.

[Rikk's Reviews] There are a lot of greats in country music today and in the past, but I was wondering which artists had the biggest impact on you or influenced you most?

Chris Young Randy Travis, Doug Stone, and Marty Robbins are artists that will always be known. They were country without trying, and they have all influenced me in different ways. However, if I had to pick one, I would say Randy Travis. His attitude toward life, his songwriting ability, and his determination to be himself with his music have all encouraged me in my own musical endeavors. If that isn't influencing someone, I don't know what is. Besides, the very first song I ever learned (at the age of 2 - LOL) was "Diggin' Up Bones." I very nearly drove my mother crazy with it.

[Rikk's Reviews] What is one of the biggest hurdles you've had to overcome so far in your young career?

Chris Young The fact that everyone keeps referring to my age. I started singing publicly at the age of nine, so I've spent as many years on stage as most performers twice my age.

[Rikk's Reviews] For the record, A Little At A Time was one of the best debuts I have heard in a while. You have a new CD coming this summer. Can you tell me a bit about that, how it may differ and even if you used your songwriting talent to pen more of the songs?

Chris Young I've spent a lot of time this past year writing, so most of the songs on the upcoming CD are songs that I've co-written. NSAI's (Nashville Songwriters Association International) theme "It All Begins With a Song," hits the nail on the head because this CD is a vehicle for releasing some songs that hit home with me. There is a song on there for my sister, one for my dad, and one for my mom. I've also learned quite a bit more about production in the last year, so I'm hoping the sound quality of this release is even better than the last one.

[Rikk's Reviews] CMA Music fest is coming up in June and you are going to be there. Where could fans and future fans alike expect to see you?

Chris Young I'll be in the Exhibit Hall every single day! My booth number (at least right now) is No. 620 - please stop by and say hi if you can. I'll be playing (inside the Exhibit Hall) on Friday, June 11th, at noon in the acoustic corner. I'll be in a songwriter round with some friends, including Billy Hurst ( and Tori Mason at the French Quarter in Nashville on Friday night, June 11th, from 7:00 - 8:00 p.m. On Thursday, June 10, we're having a fan club party and show at Two Doors Down on Demonbreum Street in Nashville from 6- 8 p.m. There is no cover, and we want everyone to come on down - it should be in between the shows at the Coliseum and Riverfront (so you won't miss anyone else). I want to meet as many of you as possible this year. If you need directions to any of the places I've mentioned, please email us at .

[Rikk's Reviews] If you could have one wish, one dream performance, what would it be and who would it be with?

Chris Young I wish that I had the chance to perform with Marty Robbins. I have always admired his voice and his songwriting, but it is his reputation with and influence on my grandfather (who I look up to) that makes him such a legend in my mind.

[Rikk's Reviews] I'm sure you've gotten the chance to share the stage with some big names. Can you name some for me?

Chris Young I've been lucky enough to sit around and pick in songwriter rounds with The Wilkinsons, and songwriters Jimmy Payne (Woman, Woman), and Don Wayne (Country Bumpkin, Saginaw Michigan). I also got to sit out on the patio at El Chico in Nashville several times with Buddy Jewell before he became the Nashville Star. I picked a little with Darryl Worley and Daryl Singletary at a Fan Fair party a couple of years ago (I actually sang "Second Wind" while Darryl played it on my guitar and sang the harmony for me), and there have been a few other experiences like that, too. As part of the Country Showdown contest several, several years ago, we opened for Trace Adkins and Kenny Rogers.

[Rikk's Reviews] Out of those, who was your favorite to perform with?

Chris Young Jimmy Payne, without a doubt. He is one of the nicest people I know, a hugely talented songwriter ("Woman, Woman" is one of my favorite songs), and a great friend. Don Wayne, a friend of my grandfather's, runs a close second.

[Rikk's Reviews] I've already asked who some of your influences were. Country music today has such a wide selection of artists and styles. Who are a few of your favorite new stars (excluding yourself)?

Chris Young Craig Morgan, Josh Turner, Billy Currington, and Gretchen Wilson.

[Rikk's Reviews] If you could predict - I know it's hard to do - but where would you like to be in your career in one year, and then think a little harder, in 5 years time?

Chris Young In one year, I would like to be much more at home with my skills as a songwriter and a guitar player. Most of all, I would like to have a major label contract in the works, but that can wait if it needs to. In five years, I hope to be touring with my own band and have a release with some national airplay.

[Rikk's Reviews] Is there anything that I haven't covered that you would like to add?

Chris Young To all those out there who believe in me (and to those who don't), I will be a part of music until the day I die. Music is my love and my art form, and I am luckily one of the few that sees both sides. That being said, there is a lot to learn in this business about everything that is in addition to the music, and I understand that. However, if I have to play down on Second Avenue with a bucket just so I can have a career in music, then I will see you there.

[Rikk's Reviews] Chris, take this time and say your thank yous to a few that have been major benefits to you and your music career.

Chris Young There are so many people that I need to thank, but a few of them are: Dan Bobbitt, Kerry Ford, Jeff Pearson, Jimmy Payne, Byron & Missy Gallimore, Keith Sensing, Scott Neubert, The NFAA (arts foundation), Bill Banks, John Henry, Larry Wayne Clark, My Parents, My sister, Terri Thompson, all the members of my fan club (especially the fans I share with Trace Adkins who are my adopted "aunts"), and everyone else who has played a part in encouraging my career in music. Also, a very special thank you goes out to James Campbell, his friends and family. James was one of my co-writers as well as a good friend, and he recently passed away from cancer. He encouraged me during a time when it was sorely needed, and he is someone who will be truly missed. And thank you to all those out there who have heard and liked the CD, and thankfully, like yourself, are willing to tell others about it.

I'd like to thank Chris Young for taking the time to answer my questions. Be sure to check out Chris Young's website. If you're ever in Nashville, for now at least, make sure to catch a Chris Young performance if you can. A young artist that knows what he wants, and with a level head on his shoulders, I am sure the sky is the limit for this talented newcomer.

In my ongoing effort to introduce you to new artists, and new music, be sure to keep checking Rikks Revues for other new artists and their music. I'll do the work of finding them; all you have to do is buy the music. As always, remember that the biggest compliment you can pay an artist is to buy their work. Support the music you love! To answer the question asked in the beginning, age has nothing to do with the talent flowing through Chris Young. A rising star to keep your eyes and ears open for in the future.

Sample clips in streaming audio. Formatted for Windows Media player, they will also play in the latest version of RealPlayer 10 (Get RealPlayer) (Get Windows Media Player) Clips 1-3 are available on A Little At A Time. "Where Would I Be" will be on the new CD, currently available only by joining the Chris Young Fan Club.

"Where Would I Be?" Sound clip Would I Be

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