Chris Young has been part of the country music scene since competing on Nashville Star in 2006, where he was crowned the winner. Young has released a steady stream of hits in the years since then, and currently has a Top 40 hit with “Young Love & Saturday Nights,” the debut single and title track of his next album.
Already establishing himself as one of country music’s reigning hitmakers, we’re taking a closer look at his extraordinary life and career. Keep reading to learn more about the superstar.
1. He grew up not far from Nashville.
Young was actually born and raised in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, less than an hour away from Nashville. He showed an early propensity for music and performing, singing at his church and in local children’s theater productions.
Young made sure he established his roots in Murfreesboro. In 2021, the Chris Young Cafe opened at Middle Tennessee State University, where he attended after high school.
“It’s kind of hard to describe what it means to me,” Young told Everything Nash at the time. “I keep telling people that I went to school here and I’ve been in this building before it was what it is now. It’s not the same. So it it’s an incredible feeling, just knowing that I had a part in making this space what it is now for people that are going to go to school here, and faculty to be able to utilize it. Knowing that it’s got my name on it, in my hometown where I went to school is pretty mind-blowing.”
2. Music is in his blood.
It’s no surprise that Young is musically talented, since it’s part of his DNA. Young’s grandfather, Richard Yates, was a performer on the Louisiana Hayride, passing on his love of music to his grandson.
“He had this music room in his house with upright pianos and a bunch of different guitars—he still has that room, actually … We would listen to Marty and Lefty Frizzell and all of those old classics, which is how I got into all of that,” Young told American Songwriter. “So, growing up watching my grandpa play this music is a big reason why I’m such a huge fan of country music history… it’s a big reason why I am who I am.”
3. He was performing in Texas when he auditioned for Nashville Star.
Young was performing in Arlington, Texas, as the house singer for Cowboys Dance Hall, when he was encouraged to audition for Nashville Star. Young traveled to Houston for the audition, made it onto the show, and was ultimately crowned the Season 4 winner. When he went on the show, his goal was to get his music heard by more people, not imagining that he would be declared the winner.
“I was in it to put my music out there,” Young told CMT. “I wasn’t really sure what was going to happen. You can never really be certain with shows like that. I knew it was a big audience for me to get my music out in front of, so I was just concentrating on doing that.
4. He considers his stepfather his real father.
Young was raised by his mother and stepfather, although many people assume they are biologically father and son, and he has always considered him his father.
“He’s technically my stepdad, although it’s hilarious because everybody thinks that we look alike and we sort of do; I’m just much taller than him,” Young previously said. “So everybody sees us, and they’re like, ‘Oh, I see it. That’s your dad.’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah.’ And he just nods. We laugh about it later, but just that relationship he has with my mom … when they got married, he asked me and my sister for permission first. So he’s a good man.”
In 2021, Young surprised his stepfather by gifting him a new truck for Christmas.
5. He was 32 years old when he was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry.
Some artists wait almost their entire career to be inducted into the Grand Ole Opry. Fortunately, Young isn’t most artists, and he didn’t have to wait too long to become an official member. Young was invited to join by Vince Gill in 2017, and later inducted by Brad Paisley.
“Now it’s not just that I went to Bill Anderson’s fan club party, which I did before I had my record deal. It’s not just that I went fishing with Little Jimmy Dickens,” Young said after his induction (via The Tennessean). “It’s not just those stories now. It’s that I’m also in that family, and it means the world to me.”
6. He went into septic shock from a cut on his leg in 2013.
What seemed to be a minor injury turned out to be a life-or-death situation for Young in 2013, when he cut his leg, which became infected. He was on tour with Paisley when he was unexpectedly hospitalized.
“I went into septic shock on the plane. Took me to the ICU. Almost died,” Young later told CBS News. “I never really broadcast it so much. But they came in and they were like, ‘Hey, we’re gonna take you into surgery now ’cause your blood pressure is so low, we’re concerned about organ failure.'”
7. He loves to cook.
Young likely doesn’t need a fall-back plan for his career, but if he did, it could be as a chef. The singer likes to make food, both for himself and for other people. So much so, he is now in charge of his family’s Thanksgiving dinner.
“So the turkey every year is on me now because last year I decided, ‘Hey, I’m going to cook the turkey,’ and I’m going to do everything,” he said (via Kicks 99 radio station). My mom saw me doing it and said, ‘I don’t have to do this anymore.’ So, now that job has fallen to me.”
8. He badly cut his hand in 2014, while cooking in the kitchen.
Young might be pretty savvy in the kitchen, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have the occasional accident. In 2014, Young had to cancel an appearance at CMA Fest at the last minute, after severely cutting his hand when he tried to catch a knife he had dropped.
“I cut two tendons, two arteries, and some nerves,” Young revealed on Country Countdown USA. “It was in two spots in my hand because it was a double-sided knife. I was cutting an apple, so I dropped it, and thought, I’ll just catch it! Not for people with weak stomachs, but it looked like somebody had killed several small animals in my house, it was really bad … I was really lucky, because my sister and guitar player were in my house, because we’d just played my fan club party.”
Fortunately, he didn’t do any permanent damage, but he had to wear a cast and sling for several weeks.
“They were worried about my thumb, and the two fingers in the center of my hand,” Young shared. “I cut right by my thumb, and right under my ring finger. The worst part was that I hit the arteries. My sister said blood shot over my shoulder.”
9. His favorite meal is breakfast.
Young’s career requires him to stay up late most nights, but breakfast is still his favorite meal of the day.
“I’m a big fan of breakfast food,” Young said. “Literally, the simplest thing in the world – if you can scramble eggs without burning them, I’ll eat them. It doesn’t matter what time of the day it is.”
10. He loves Christmas.
Most people love the holidays, but Young really, really loves Christmastime. He received his first guitar as a child for Christmas one year, with his passion for the holiday season only growing in the years since then.
“I love everything about it. Not only the time with family, but also the meaning of the season — just everything that goes along with it,” Young said (via The Boot). “And it really is my downtime as a musician as well. It’s the first time that, really, there’s a full week of me at home with my parents and my sister and my stepbrother, and everybody’s actually together.
“We all sit down and watch terrible Christmas movies together. There’s always entirely too much food, and there’s gifts — just all of that stuff wrapped up into one week and time period,” he added. “I love it.”
11. He is actively involved in The Charlie Daniels Journey Home Project.
Young was greatly influenced by the life and career of Charlie Daniels, who started The Journey Home Project to help veterans. So when the Country Music Hall of Fame member passed away in 2020, Young quietly, and without any fanfare, stepped in to help support the cause, renamed The Charlie Daniels Journey Home Project.
“I’ve got military in my family,” Young told Everything Nash. “I’ve sat on boards for military organizations that were nonprofits. I’ve been overseas multiple different times to Iraq, South Korea. It’s something that I’ve seen firsthand. And I know that music can make a difference in that. It’s one of the things that I’m really, truly passionate about. So I’m very happy to now be involved with that, and helping them raise money and keep that and everything that Charlie meant to so many people, going.”