When the Academy of Country Music Awards nominations were announced Thursday morning (Feb. 10), Chris Young found himself at the top of the list of this year’s nominees, with seven nods.
His collaboration with Kane Brown, “Famous Friends,” earned nods for single of the year (Young is also a producer on the track) and video of the year, as well as music event of the year (with Young again earning nods as an artist and producer). Meanwhile, Young’s Famous Friends project marked his second ACM album of the year nod (he was previously nominated in the category in 2016 with I’m Coming Over). Young is a co-producer on Famous Friends, alongside Corey Crowder, Mark Holman and Chris DeStefano.
“It was just absolutely craziness with these nominations,” Young told Billboard not long after the nominations were announced. “It’s been a pretty wild day. We called Kane, we called [‘Famous Friends’] co-writer Cary Barlowe. It’s been a nonstop day on my phone, but totally worth it and totally blown away on my end.”
“Famous Friends” topped Billboard’s Country Airplay chart last year and concluded 2021 at the pinnacle of the year-end Country Airplay Songs ranking. For Young, the most gratifying thing about these ACM nominations has been sharing it with the team around him.
“There are so many awesome pieces to this and so many people I get to call,” Young says. “That part of makes it feel more real. It’s such a personal song about the people who make you who you are, who don’t always get the recognition. Having the song with a friend like [Kane] and now getting to hype it up with these nominations, it feels really damn good.”
After hearing the nominations on Thursday morning, Young went right back into the studio with Corey Crowder, who he has worked with as a co-producer for nearly eight years, since Young’s I’m Coming Over album.
“I may or may not have been in the studio working on stuff to be a big addition to that record, maybe? I don’t want to say too much or be too vague, but that was why I was with my buddy Crowder this morning. We were working on a new song and I was like, ‘You know how I’m going to celebrate this? We’re going to do some stuff in the studio.’”
Young’s mother, Becky Harris, is a music industry veteran and president at Huskins-Harris Business Management, so the singer-songwriter says he was delighted to be able to surprise her with industry news for a change.
“For me, normally my family hears about nominations and things before me,” Young says. “This year, my dad had some major, though planned, dental surgery and she has been taking care of him. When I called them this morning, I was checking on him but I said, ‘Hey, have you heard yet?’ and they hadn’t. So for once, I got to tell them. I got to drop the surprise on them and especially with being the most-nominated, that felt really cool to be able to surprise both of them that way.”
Though Young earned his first ACM Awards nomination (for top new male vocalist) back in 2007, and has notched 10 No. 1 Country Airplay hits and several ACM nominations since then, he has yet to take home an ACM Award.
“It’s always awesome to have a nomination, period, because there have been plenty of years in my career where there wasn’t one,” he says. “So I’m excited anytime there is a nomination, and especially what happened this year. I’ve never been the most-nominated artist at an awards show, and especially not one the caliber of the ACMs.”
At this point, Young says he’s not sure how he will celebrate should he take home his first ACM trophy on March 7.
“I’ve never won an ACM Award so I have no idea what I would do, but we’ll make it work. Rest assured, I 1,000% understand today is about being nominated. I’m not minimizing that by talking about what ifs, but I absolutely want to win one.”
The 57th ACM Awards are set to stream on Prime Video beginning at 7 p.m. CT on Monday, March 7, live from Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.