Winners and finalists in TV singing contests are not guaranteed success in the music business. In fact, most contestants have a rough time capitalizing on the national exposure they get from those flashy music tourneys.
Country singer Chris Young, who performs at Memorial Coliseum on Nov. 21 and who won season four of Nashville Star, almost did not rise to the level of arena performer.
After Young released his second album, The Man I Want to Be, in 2009, he knew the label would drop him if that collection didn’t produce at least one No. 1 single.
He banked everything on a song called “Gettin’ You Home.”
“I understood that if (‘Gettin’ You Home’) didn’t work, that would be the end of my career with Sony,” Young told the Duluth News-Tribune. “That song worked.”
Working his way up
Ten years later, he is performing in venues the size of Memorial Coliseum.
Young’s status as an amphitheater headliner is recently achieved. For a long time, Young opened for guys like George Strait, Dierks Bentley, and Brad Paisley. Slow-and-steady won the race ultimately, but Young said it took 14 years to reach the top of the bill.
When he was younger, Young said he might have expressed frustration at the pace of things, but his gratefulness increased as he aged.
“You never really get to choose,” he said, referring to the speed at which success arrives. “I’m honestly happy I’ve gotten to the point where we’re playing amphitheaters and breaking records for the number of people we’re having at a show. It’s been an incredible, incredible time. I’m glad about the experiences I’ve had to this point.
“It takes a lot of time,” he told The Charlotte Observer, “depending on who you are, and depending on what your career path is like. Mine’s always been ... just a very, very steady, gradual uptick through my career. And I’m not mad about that, one, at all… (Performing at amphitheaters) is something that I’ve looked forward to and set as a goal. And I’ll keep growing through this as well, and keep making ’em bigger and better.”
Learning from the best
Spending as much time as he has with the country legends who preceded him, Young has learned a thing or two.
His favorite piece of advice came from Paisley.
“He said, ‘Dude, whatever you do, if a crowd wants to do something, let ’em do it,’” Young said. “And that sounds very basic, but ... you ever seen somebody try to get a crowd to clap along with a song, and they do it for about five seconds, and then they stop? It’s like, no, don’t try to force them to do something you want them to do. If everybody obviously wants to sing this one line of this song, stick the mic out there and let ’em sing it. If everybody wants to wave their hands left to right on this one song, just let ’em do it. It’s something I picked up on while watching other artists ever since that was said to me, and it’s super-, super-obvious. But it was one of those things, like, ‘Oh!’ It had to be pointed out for me, to just go, ‘Yeah, idiot. Just notice this.’”
With Young’s growing confidence as a performer came a growing confidence as an interview subject.
Young is a private guy and he said he is not afraid to tell interviewers that they are treading on sacred ground.
“That’s why it’s called personal life because it’s personal,’ he told The Augusta Chronicle. “You know, it puts a lot of pressure on a relationship, too. So it’s just one of those things where I do keep my private life private. That might be a little more rare these days for people to do, but it’s just something that I decided to do.”
Young isn’t reluctant to talk about one aspect of his private life, however: His dog.
Young’s dog accompanies him on tour.
“He does not like to be at home without me,” Young told The Syracuse Post-Standard. “He has gotten accustomed to being on the road with me. I have the same kennel that I have at home right next to my bed on the bus. If I have him and my phone and access to electricity, I am pretty good to go.
“He’s a German Shepherd named Porter and he has his own instagram account ‘@porterthedog.’ One of my musician friends said, ‘Dude, I hate you. Your dog has more Instagram followers than me.’ I said, ‘He’s cuter than both of us. I don’t know what to tell you, man.’”
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