Chris Young may be used to having swarms of beautiful women show up at his mega country concerts, but playing a set in front of some of America's most beautiful models puts things at a whole new level, even for the most seasoned of professional singers.
Known for his hits like "Tomorrow," "Lonely Eyes," and "Voices," just to name a few, the country star took to our (much) smaller stage to perform for SwimVille attendees and the results were just as you'd imagine—country music perfection. (In case you can't tell, I'm a total fangirl. Don't mind me over here, still wigging out over the chance to chat with Chris on the phone...)
And thank you, Nashville, for providing us with such a fantastic taste of the music you're so often known for. You, and Chris Young, might just turn the whole country onto country music.
SWIM DAILY: Tell us about yourself as a musician. You’ve definitely come a long way since winning Nashville Star—how have you developed into the artist you are today?
CHRIS YOUNG: I think the fact that you even mention Nashville Star says a lot about the progression of my career and the fans that have been there along the way. From the start of my career to now, all the things that have happened, and the fact that I’m closing in on signing to RCA for a decade—it’s been an amazing experience. I’m a singer songwriter. And if I had to pick one, I’d say I’m a singer first and a songwriter second. I’m a country artist, and I don’t know that there’s anything I could ever do when I would open my mouth, to not sound country, so I've run with that. I’m really enjoying every day I wake up and I get to do something really cool. To be able to think that I was riding around in a full passenger van with guys from college and now I'm going to Australia and Hawaii to play country is just unbelievable.
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SWIM DAILY: What’s been the biggest moment in your career to this point? And what’s the biggest thing you hope to accomplish this year?
CHRIS YOUNG: Probably for this year, I'm planning to get into some new music. There’s some stuff I want to do there. You always want to have the best album sales you can have in a first week, so I’m sure I’ll get started on that at some point soon. As far as something I’m proud of, there’s so many things I could pick. Really for me, it starts at the very beginning, with the fact that I’m a singer first. I got nominated for Male Vocalist one year [Chris Young was nominated for a Grammy for Best Male Country Vocal Performance for "Gettin' You Home], and that for me has always been the benchmark for success I wanted to happen in my career. Just being nominated in that category is pretty unbelievable. It’s really validating for me and helps people want to come to my shows. I want people to come to my shows.
SWIM DAILY: What are the three words that best define your music?
CHRIS YOUNG: Country, singer, songwriter. No, that’s too simple. I would say emotional, fun and artistic. The reason I use those words is that I do everything from "Aw Naw," which is a fun party thing, to a lot of love songs. Every now and then I do something off the beaten path. So those are the three sides to me that you could specifically point to.
SWIM DAILY: For our readers who may not be into country music, how would you encourage them to give your music, or country music in general, a chance?
CHRIS YOUNG: I’ve got everything from Aerosmith to Waylon Jennings to rap to classical on my phone. I always wanted to look to everything I could get my hands on music wise and find what I like within it to use in my own music. Hopefully people hear my music, and listen, and can find something they dig, too.
SWIM DAILY: We’ve seen that philanthropy is really important to you. Why is giving back to Nashville and the community that has supported you such a priority?
CHRIS YOUNG: For me, when you have so many really cool things happen for you in your career and you have great moments that you can point to, you also have an opportunity to give back. Especially being able to do things locally, like St. Jude which has a national reach but is also in Tennessee and does so much for children and the families who deal with cancer and diseases, is priceless. Or it might be something like donating to local arts organizations, which I was a part of and I think it's really important to have art education. That’s my life. Things that are important to me and touch people—that’s part of what’s so fun about what I do. I use those times to maybe focus people’s attention there for even just five seconds
We just recently did an event where we got a whole bunch of people in a room, and me and some other songwriters came together to play together. Everyone was so relaxed and it was such a cool thing to be able to play music and raise money. It doesn't get more real than that for me.
SWIM DAILY: How and why did you get involved in Swimsuit Launch Week? Was it a unique experience to most of the shows you play?
CHRIS YOUNG: I initially loved that it was being set up as a tent down the middle of Broadway. It was one of those events that we call the “plug-in, pray and play”. It’s not big video walls and some of the stuff I do on the road. It’s a different kind of show. People are right at the stage and I love that setup. I was one of the few artists there that you would describe as a true country musician. It was all different styles of music and I thought it was fun. Sports Illustrated is one of those things you can't say no to. The previous day before the show, I got to talk football with Eddie George because of my involvement.
If I could talk sports and play music for the rest of my life, I’d be the happiest man alive.
SWIM DAILY: Lastly, did you get to meet any of our models? Any favorites?
CHRIS YOUNG: I met several of the models when I was there. I did a few interviews with them, too. We did one with Sirus XM at 8am with Kate Bock, and she’s really, really sweet and a lot of fun. Gigi and I talked at the event where I played, and she said 'I really dig your music' when we were backstage. That's pretty cool.
Be sure to come back on Monday for our Q&A with Will Hoge!