By Anne DeGrand
Celebrate Arkansas Magazine
When I met Chris Young at the Arkansas Oklahoma State fair last month, he was almost exactly as I would have expected him. He came sauntering in wearing a cowboy hat, boots, jeans and a button up shirt—the picture of a country music artist in my mind. I’d first heard his name a few months prior on country radio. His songs “Gettin’ You Home” and “The Man I Want to Be” were popular requests on the local country station and his new single “Voices” was just starting to get air time. His deep voice and even deeper lyrics were exactly what I’d expect an up-and-coming country artist should sound like. In his song “The Man I Want to Be” Chris sings about a man he strives to be. A “good man,” a “giving man,” a “strong man” are all qualities he sings about. Yet, after talking to Chris it’s hard not to see these qualities already in him; qualities I would have missed from listening to his songs on the radio.
A STRONG MAN
The country crooner got his start in mainstream country music after he won fi rst place in the American Idol style contest, Nashville Star, in 2006. Along with being crowned as the winner, Chris also got a record contract with RCA Records, the same record label that has been home to such country music legends as Alabama and Ronnie Milsap. While at the label, he has put out a pair of albums, most recently The Man I Want to Be and seen many successes in his career, including being named Country’s Hottest Bachelor by Country Weekly—not a bad accolade for this country boy. Though his name has become more recognizable since the win, the 25-year-old Tennessee native has been writing and performing songs since he was just a young boy. In fact, he put out his fi rst CD when he was just a senior in high school. Listening to his current hits, it’s not hard to tell he was destined for country music—his deep voice fi ts the genre so well it’s hard to imagine him doing anything else. “You could put me on the biggest pop track ever and you’d be [saying], ‘That guy sounds country,’” Chris admits. With “The Man I Want to Be” and “Get-tin’ You Home” earning him two back-to-back number one singles, the fi rst in his career, he’s now on his way to a third with his new single “Voices”—a long overdue achievement for this singer. “I got more shots than anyone gets anymore as an artist,” he explains.
A GOOD MAN
Recently, in addition to his two number one hit singles, Chris also received his fi rst CMA Award nomination as New Artist of the Year, was honored at the 2010 ASCAP Country Music Awards for one of the Top 5 Most Performed Songs of the year, and won the Nationwide Insurance On Your Side award, in conjunction with this summer’s CMT Music Awards. Chosen by fans, he was nominated against three other country newcomers. This honor meant a lot to him, and he attributes much of his success to the fact that he has some great fans. “Everything that has been able to happen [in my career] in the past two years has happened because I have loyalty. So many people have stood by me, not only the fans, but also my label and the songwriters writing with me,” Chris shares. His humble nature would almost seem unnatural if it wasn’t so genuine. After years of working in the industry, and fi nally getting recognition for his talent, it’s hard to still call him a newcomer. His success certainly did not come easy, making it all the easier to appreciate what he’s got. “Just seeing how much stuff happened to me, how many writers stuck with me and really wanted to write with me for a long time and really believed in me, I think makes it—it just makes it something more.” Humble and appreciative? Check.
A GIVING MAN
Next month, Chris will be back in Northwest Arkansas to play a show that means more than most. Through a partnership with the Dr Pepper Snapple Group and the Mercy Health Foundation of Northwest Arkansas, Chris will be featured at O’ Night Divine, Mercy Health Foundation’s Charity Ball as the evening’s entertainment and main attraction. In the past, the event has featured musicians such as Martina McBride and former American Idol contestant Danny Gokey. Struggling to make it in the industry just a few years ago, he now has a jam packed tour schedule, including three tours just this year. Yet, between the busy concert schedule and trying to write songs for his third album, Chris still finds time to be involved in organizations that are important to him. Playing at the Mercy Ball is just one example of how he gives back. The St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is one cause he feels very strongly about. “I think what they do is amazing,” he says. His dad recovered from lung cancer this year, giving him even more reason to appreciate all that St. Jude does to find cures and research medicine. “It’s crazy to think about how something they have worked on could have helped my dad survive cancer.” He also finds time to be a board member at Stars for Stripes, a non-profit organization that provides celebrity entertainment to U.S. military forces deployed internationally. Through interaction with the celebrities, Stars for Stripes hopes to boost the morale of troops overseas. Last year Chris had the opportunity to travel to Iraq and Germany to visit with wounded soldiers and experience military life first-hand. Through his dedication to his own career, his ability to stay humble and appreciative after all he’s done, and his big heart, it’s hard not to love Chris Young. He’s certainly more than just cowboy boots and country songs.
O What a Night!
Next month, the Mercy Health Foundation of Northwest Arkansas will host O’ Night Divine, their annual charity ball at the John Q. Hammons Center in Rogers. With the help of a performance from country music artist Chris Young, the evening is guaranteed to be unforgettable. The annual Charity Ball is just one of the special events held each year by the Mercy Health Foundation of Northwest Arkansas.
The proceeds from the evening enhance health care services, as well buy prescription drugs on line as supports patient education and funds charity care throughout the Mercy Health System of Northwest Arkansas. For the past three years, nearly $500,000 has been raised annually from the event and this year we’re looking forward to trying to top that!
“The funds raised insures that Mercy is one of the best health care providers in the state,” explains Clark Ellison, Vice President and Chief Development Officer of Mercy Health Foundation of Northwest Arkansas. “Without the support of the community, the donors and the patients, the Charity Ball would never be as successful as it has been in the past.”
Just last month, Mercy announced the installation of a new stereotactic breast biopsy machine at Mercy Health Center in Rogers. The stereotactic breast biopsy is a minimally invasive procedure that allows a biopsy to be accomplished in about an hour. The new machine will insure that much fewer patients will have to go into the operating room, which makes for a larger incision and more lengthy recovery.
Funding for this state-of-the-art equipment came from last year’s Charity Ball and the Dickey Ray Club. Each year, Dick Trammel asks guests to participate by raising a set amount of money in a set period of time to be used for a very specifi c project. Last year, while raising money for the stereotactic breast biopsy equipment, the club had a goal of raising $150,000 in just 15 minutes. Before the countdown could begin, General Mills announced a donation of an amazing $75,000 toward the total, followed by a generous donation $25,000 gift from the Walmart Foundation as well. With $50,000 left to raise, Trammel ended up bringing in $52,000—the largest Dickey Ray Club total in the history of the event.
At this year’s black tie event, in addition to the Dickey Ray Club fundraiser, there will also be a dinner and live auction.The evening will be capped off with Chris Young’s performance, truly ending the night with a bang. As one of the area’s premier charity events, we’re looking forward to attending this year and can’t wait to see how much money we can raise for the Mercy Health Foundation of Northwest Arkansas for all that they do for our community. We hope to see you there!
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