New Chris Young Cafe at MTSU Honors Singer’s Career, Character
The very first song performed at the brand new Chris Young Cafe was “Famous Friends,” but the singer wasn’t just promoting his single. In many ways, Chris Young’s latest release fits into the newly revealed time and space at Middle Tennessee State University.
A mural outside the Chris Young Cafe finds Young alongside 31 other “friends” who have marked his life or left a mark on MTSU, Young’s alma mater in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Here you’ll find singer-songwriters Hardy and Mitchell Tenpenny. Next to Young is University President Sidney A. McPhee. Those who know him will spot others close to him, such as his mother.
“There’s Eric Paslay up there, who I’ve known for a very long time,” Young told Taste of Country. “We went to school together here… Martha Earls is actually over there, who is Kane Brown’s manager.”
A full list of the characters depicted and their meanings will be released shortly, Young added shortly after the ceremony. During the ceremony, journalist Cindy Watts – who was instrumental in creating the mural – explained how it was all loosely inspired by The Beatles. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Group album cover. However, the full scope of the painting is about what coffee is all about, and it’s more than just a way to honor one of the region’s most famous artists.
The new Chris Young Cafe was built to help the next generation of college musicians, artists, engineers, and industry professionals. In addition to donating $ 50,000, Young provided the stage with microphones, amplifiers and other equipment. A large LED video wall supports a stage with state-of-the-art audiovisual technology, so that after one-day classes are over, it can be used as a performance hall at night.
“Chris Young is a man of character, of integrity and caring. That is why he was the perfect person for whom the cafe should be named,” said Beverly Keel, dean of the College of Media and Entertainment at MTSU.
“It makes you feel good to hear this and have people think these things about you,” Young said after deflecting cuteness for a while. “There are a lot of people they could have asked for. I was very, very proud to be a part of that.”
Young grew up in Murfreesboro and attended Oakland High School before attending MTSU and starting a career in country music. He toured while studying, but in 2006 a victory on USA Network Nashville Star took his career to new heights and landed him on RCA Nashville, the record label he’s worked with for 15 years.
To date, the Grammy-nominated singer has nine No.1s Billboard Country Airplay singles, 21 RIAA certifications and a pair of Grammy nominations. “Famous Friends” with Kane Brown is his latest single, written the very weekend he wrote the Top 5 hit “Raised on Country” in 2018.
Earlier today, Young was in attendance for the unveiling of a Tennessee Music Pathways marker in his name. The sign and its story will be placed just outside the Chris Young Cafe on the MTSU campus. Additionally, the Daniels and Young Veterans Scholarship was announced by David Corlew of the Journey Home Project as a means to provide funding for a veteran who wishes to pursue a career in the music industry. This is Charlie Daniels, whom Young knew and admired (he died in 2020). After the service, Young says he reached out to Corlew saying he wanted to further this legacy in some way.
“I was like, ‘If there is a way that I can be used to help, in any way, in any form, I’m here,'” Young remembers. The stock market was born out of this.
“They put my name on it, but it’s one of Charlie Daniels’ legacies,” he continues. “Not just a Hall of Fame artist, but someone I admired and who gave a lot of his time that he didn’t really have to give. It had a huge influence on me.”
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