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From the ‘Boro to the Big Time

Country Artist Chris Young Reflects on his Murfreesboro Roots and Music Career

While his music has taken him around the world, for Country music artist Chris Young, Murfreesboro will always be considered home. “That’s where I was born and raised,” says Young of Murfreesboro. “That’s where my love of Country music came from. There are just so many things that I could tie who I am to the city of Murfreesboro.” Not only is it where his childhood milestones took place, but Murfreesboro also holds many of the defining moments in his music career, including performing at various locales on downtown Murfreesboro’s square. “Well, obviously, everyone always thinks of Nashville being the home of Country music to Murfreesboro, but to me, that [Murfreesboro] is where I got to hear my song on the radio for the first time,” he explains. “Murfreesboro was where I did a lot of my band rehearsals and made my first record, where I went to high school obviously, so I think all of those experiences led up to me being the artist that I am.”

Staying true to his hometown roots, Young made the decision to stay in Murfreesboro for college, attending Middle Tennessee State University. “Obviously, I knew MTSU’s reputation one as a college, but two for their recording industry program, and I always thought that was something I would really like to be a part of,” shares Young. “That was where I got a lot of my early publishing knowledge and just knowledge of the [music] business, so I think that was something I was really happy that I decided to do instead of going somewhere else…”

Even after attending, MTSU has remained a special part of the musician’s life, as he’s worked with the university to help provide opportunities in music for students. The artist funded the renovation of what is now The Chris Young Café for students interested in pursuing musical careers to use as a space to practice their craft and get hands-on experience in performance, artist management, audio, video, and more. In addition to the café, Young has been involved in helping further students’ dreams and musical aspirations through the funding of an annual scholarship for recording industry students. “…I feel like that’s a little bit of a way for me to give back,” he explains of the scholarships. “I’m very grateful for just the help that I’ve received over the years from everybody else. Whether it’s from people listening to my music or whether it’s people that taught me at MTSU or just the things that I’ve gone through to get to this point in my career…”

Young has seen immense radio success throughout his career, but the praise that has come from his radio hit “Famous Friends” with Kane Brown holds extra importance to him as it shines a spotlight on his hometown friends, some of which even make an appearance in the music video. “These are all real people,” Young shares of the Platinum-certified song, which has won ASCAP’s 2022 Country Music Song for the Year, as well as Collaborative Video of the Year at the 2021 CMT Awards, among multiple other award nominations. “I mention people that I grew up with, and to be able to write a song like that and for it to resonate with people like that the way it did is just incredibly special,” explains Young of the song that was his tenth No. 1 song as a songwriter and twelfth as a recording artist. While many times radio hits tend to be more universal in order to be relatable and shy away from details that would only connect to the lives of the songwriters and artists, Young and his co-writers Corey Crowder and Cary Barlowe decided to take a risk, penning a song that was extremely personal and specific to Young as an individual. Dropping names of people that hold great importance in Young’s life and even making a shoutout to Rutherford County, where his “crowd is second to none” proved to be the right choice with this song. “…I had no idea it would have this kind of reach,” says Young of “Famous Friends.” “It has been incredible to see other people connect with this song…”

Heading full speed ahead into 2023, Young released two new songs in January, “All Dogs Go To Heaven” and his recent radio single “Looking For You” off of his upcoming album, which is set to be released this year. “Looking for You,” which he describes as an “up-tempo love song,” was one that came quickly into the writing room and that he “had a whole lot of fun making.” Written with hit songwriters Chris DeStefano, Emily Weisband, and James McNair, it was the first time he’d written with this group of songwriters. “I think that song is going to be something special,” says Young. 

One thing’s for sure, no matter where his career takes him, Young will never forget his roots in Murfreesboro.