Grammy Nominee Chris Young on the Story Vince Gill Wishes He'd Stop Telling

David McClister
Chris Young

On Feb. 12, all eyes will be fixed upon the 59th Annual Grammy Awards, and RCA recording artist Chris Young is definitely excited. The singer is nominated in the Best Country Duo/Group Performance category with Cassadee Pope for their chart-topping duet “Think Of You.” Young tells Billboard that being included in the field is something that never gets old. “Being nominated for a Grammy Award is obviously something that you dream about. So to have that happen and it be the second time I’ve been nominated, as well as it being with Cassadee and this song, with all the things that have happened with it is all pretty incredible.”

The song has captivated fans’ attention since the two began performing it live last year, where Young says the song has taken on a life of its own. “I do think there is a great energy for us on stage when we’re doing that song. Part of it is that we are very close friends, but the other part is that she has such a phenomenal voice. It’s a song that I think ‘I better not sing this bad’ because she’s standing across the stage from me. It’s so cool to be able to perform that live, and I’m very excited to be able to celebrate this with her, as well.”

Collaborations have been near to Young’s heart as of late. His current single is “Sober Saturday Night,” which includes the unmistakable talents of Vince Gill, and currently sits at No. 9 on the Top Country Songs chart. He says to have his career trajectory intersect with a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame such as Gill qualifies as another career plateau. “It’s awesome to see that on the chart, as well as to see his name next to mine when it’s scrolling across the radio dial. It’s incredible. I’m such a huge fan, which I think I’ve been pretty transparent about. Being able to see that song rise, and everything that it’s done, as well has been really cool.”

Young says that Gill was one of his early musical heroes, which makes the collaboration all the more rewarding. “I think the first time I ever saw Vince, it was one of my first concerts as a kid. I was at Starwood Amphitheater in Nashville. Seeing him perform live on stage was one of those first times where I thought ‘I want to do what that guy does,” he says, adding that Gill sometimes wishes he wasn’t quite so…nostalgic. “I’ve told him that several times, to which he has started saying ‘I wish you would quit telling that story. You don’t have to tell them you were a kid,'” he says with a laugh. "But it’s amazing that all of these years later, to be working with him -- especially on a song that is on the radio. He’s so talented. It’s so unreal to watch him sing or play on the stage, not even counting all he does as a producer or a songwriter. There’s so many things that he does that are amazing.”

2017 continues Young’s busy streak. The singer has just announced a partnership with Folgers Coffee to inspire musicians to follow their dreams by putting their own spin on the iconic jingle and entering their version into the Folgers Jingle Contest. From Jan. 30, 2017 through Feb. 27, 2017, individuals can submit a video at Folgers.com of their unique musical performance of the jingle for an opportunity to win a mentoring session with Chris Young. One grand prize winner will receive $25,000.

Young says he’s excited to be a part of the promotion. “Folgers asked me if I wanted to be a part of this, and it really makes a lot of sense for what they’re doing with the jingle competition. They’ve got up and coming singers and songwriters to try to take that iconic Folgers’ jingle, and re-work it into something that is their very own. They’ll also have a chance to win $25,000 possibly at the end of all this. There’s a part when it gets down to five semi-finalists where they will get a chance to come to Nashville for a mentoring session with me -- which I’m really excited about because of what I’ve already seen and how creative it is. It’s great to be a part of something that is going to lift someone up who are aspiring musicians; $25,000 can change an aspiring musician’s world around.”

Young views the partnership with Folgers as a way to give back, something that continues a trend he started in late 2016 with the establishment of an annual scholarship in his name at his alma mater, Middle Tennessee State University. “One of the things I’ve been doing with a foundation that I set up is trying to find a way to further music education. To be able to have a scholarship in my name at MTSU, where I went to school is wild to even think about. But it’s something I have wanted to do for a while, and last year seemed to have the perfect timing of everything coming together to able to do that.”

After headlining his own tour last year, Young is looking forward to being a part of the They Don’t Know tour this year with Jason Aldean and Kane Brown. “I’m really looking forward to that. I’ve done some touring with Jason in the past. Obviously, his crowds are amazing, and super-loyal, so it’s going to be fun to get out and perform in front of them. It’s a good way to look forward to summer, for sure.”

2017 Grammys