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THURSDAY, JULY 19, 2007
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Country singer Chris Young will perform July 27 at Princess Theatre.
Courtesy photo by Russ Harrington
Country singer Chris Young will perform July 27 at Princess Theatre.

Young country
‘Nashville Star’ winner to perform at Princess, and his fan club president — a Huntsville woman — is excited to see ‘Country’s Hottest Bachelor’

By Danielle Komis Palmer
dpalmer@decaturdaily.com · 340-2447

Local country music fans, stomp your cowboy boots and clap your hands, because country music in Decatur is back.

After a 20-year hiatus, country music returned to Princess Theatre Center for the Performing Arts a few months ago when USA Network’s Nashville Star” Season 5 winner Zac Hacker came to town.

It’ll be a honky-tonk good time again when Chris Young performs next week at the Princess. Young was recently nominated by the Academy of Country Music for Top New Male Vocalist.

“Chris is a pretty big deal in country music so it’s great to have him come to Decatur,” said Cindy Harmon, box office manager and event planner at the Princess. At the Hacker concert, 400 people came to the show.

Young has been busy touring the country since he won Season 4 of “Nashville Star” — the country music equivalent of “American Idol” —in 2006 and landed an RCA record deal. His self-titled debut album, which came out last October, debuted on the country album charts at No. 3.

While Young only recently became well known nationally, he has garnered fans for years in the Southeast.

Terri Thompson of Huntsville, president of Young’s fan club, started the club when Young was only 14 years old. Thompson heard him sing at a country music showdown in Nashville and was instantly hooked on his voice.

“He got up there and we were like, ‘Oh my God, this guy is awesome,’ ” she said. “I just always stuck with him because I knew he was going to make it.”

Working with Kenny Chesney producer Buddy Cannon, Young wrote a few songs on his album, including his first top 40 single “Drinkin’ Me Lonely.” The 22-year-old Murfreesboro, Tenn., native also recently was named Country’s Hottest Bachelor by Country Weekly’s readers, beating out Chesney, Gary Allan and Keith Anderson.

But despite his quick rise to the top, Young still gives thanks every day for making it to where he is now.

“I don’t ever take it for granted that I happen to be making a living at it because sometimes that’s really, really hard,” Young said, noting many acquaintances he’s seen try their hand at the Nashville scene throughout his life. For many, fame never arrived.

Now, when he boards his tour bus, he thinks back to the old days when he drove a van cross-country for his shows and subsidized the trips with his own money.

“It was basically like we played the show to pay the gas,” he said.

Grandfather’s influence

Young set his sights on becoming a country music singer as early as age 8. His grandfather — a one-time “Louisiana Hayride” radio broadcast performer who played piano and guitar — turned him on to it.

“He actually bought me my first guitar,” he said. “He knew how much it meant to him and I think he saw how interested I was in music.”

Young has played in the North Alabama area before, though not at the Princess. Two years ago he performed at Big Spring Jam in Huntsville and last year performed for the Madison Arts Council.

If you hear him sing in his rich baritone, you’ll likely remember him, Thompson said.

“He’s got the traditional sound because of his influences (Keith Whitley, Randy Travis) with his own updated, contemporary flair.” she said. “It’s his own music. When you hear him, you know that’s him. He doesn’t sound like anybody else.”

Before making his major label debut, Young recorded three independent albums and sold them at his concerts. Young’s first major label album sold 36,000 copies its first week of release, enough for him to set a record for the highest-selling debut by a male country artist in 2006.

If you go

What: Chris Young concert

Where: Princess Theatre Center for the Performing Arts

When: July 27, 7:30 p.m.

Tickets: $25 to $30. Reserved tickets are available online at www.princesstheatre.org, the Princess Theatre Box Office, or by phone at 340-1778.

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