It may not be the most popular music genre in the UK, but country music has a fan base here. Nashville knows this and is hoping to bring more of it’s talents to our shores. It’s rarely played on British radio, where some still believe country is still Dolly Parton and Kenny Rodgers. Country music today isn’t your grand fathers music anymore and hasn’t been for a long time, the old greats are eternal but country embodies so much more.
In 2006 Chris Young was the winner of Nashville Star, a singing contest in the same vein as American Idol/X Factor and signed with RCA Nashville. Numerous accolades later and a cameo in a TV drama, Chris makes his debut in the UK and Ireland as part of the CMA (Country Music Association) wildly popular CMA Songwriters Series. An all accoustic showcase of singer-song writers, stripped to their guitars (maybe a harmonica) and the story behind the songs. Chris was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions.
RM: Welcome to the UK! I gather this is your first tour outside the US. What type of feed back and encouragement have you received from your fans abroad?
CY: Overall, everyone has been really welcoming. It seems like a lot of people have sought out my music before I even came over, so it’s really exciting to see folks singing along to my songs.
RM: Are there any London attractions you are looking forward to see or will you even have the time?
CY:I hope I have time to see some of London, but I don’t really know what my schedule will be like. Music and the shows are the priority for sure this time around.
RM: You’re very fortunate that your voice varies, and I compare your earthy baritone voice to that of legend George Jones and other country greats such as Alan Jackson, Randy Travis and Trace Adkins. Not to sound cliché or repetitive, but who were your country favourites growing up?
CY: I definitely loved Randy Travis growing up. The first song I learned the words to as a kid was “Digging Up Bones”.
RM: You have proved you not only sing the songs, but you write some of them too. Before you signed with a label, had you ever written with someone you had never met or knew?
CY: Of Course! The first lesson of co-writing, I think, is learning how to get in a room with someone you don’t know, let your walls down, and write what’s on your mind. That definitely took some practice on my end.
RM: Five consecutive #1 singles, certified golds, numerous nominations, awards and now acting?? OK it was just Cameo appearance on Nashville, but are you open to other acting roles?
CY: I think maybe if it’s the right fit for me, and it doesn’t interfere with my music, I might be interested in trying out for some more acting roles in the future.
RM: “This song is kind of like the feel of an R&B song and steel guitar had a baby” is how you how you once humorously introduced your hit single (and my personal favourite) “You”. Do you listen to or like R&B music?
CY: I like everything. Literally… From James Brown to Aerosmith to Tony Bennett.
RM: How long after you signed with your current record label, did it sink in that you were on your way to bigger and better things?
CY: It took a while… I didn’t have a radio hit off of my first record, and for the first two years I actually made a lot less money than I had been making playing clubs. Once it took off though, and I started hearing my songs on the radio, it was a great feeling.
RM: Are you finding friends and people you knew before your music career kicked off are treating you any different?
CY: I have some really great friends and family that really support what I do.
RM: You will be touring 3 continents this year, how do you unwind between tours?
CY: I turn my phone off when I can !
RM: Here’s a curveball out of left field for you. London’s own Leona Lewis has stated she loves country music. Last year she spent time in Nashville with two of Music City’s prolific and successful song writers, Luke Laird and Hillary Lindsey. She has also recorded a song written by Brett James, who you are touring with. What are your thoughts of doing a duet with her or even collaborating on writing if the opportunity arose?
CY: I think those are cool thoughts for sure. She is a fantastic talent, and she is writing with some of my favourite co-writers, so who knows.
Chris Young appears alongside Bob Depiero, Kristian Bush (of Sugarland), and Brett James at Bush Hall in Shepherds Bush on Monday 25th February.
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