For country singer Chris Young, making music and performing live is all about giving his fans a space to relax and enjoy themselves. “As much as you want them to leave saying it was the best show they’ve ever been to, you also want them to go— I didn’t think about anything except enjoying myself for 90 minutes of my life. I got to sit down, just really unplug, have fun, be moved and have that experience.” In this way, Young wants his music to be therapeutic for his fans, offering them a space to de-stress. His ability to provide this through his performances highlights that the influence of music therapy doesn’t only apply to people who are ill, but it can be for all types of healing.
Young was first introduced to music therapy through his passion for music education. He has supported countless music education programs, and it is a top philanthropic priority for him because of his life-changing experiences with his own teachers. Music education often works in tandem with music therapy, simultaneously teaching children how to make music and use it to bring joy and happiness into their lives and the lives of others. Young has seen first-hand the impact music therapy has on children; from physical healing to the opportunity to laugh and enjoy the pleasures of childhood. His connection with music therapy led him to partner with Aflac and ACM Lifting Lives to honor an individual for their excellence in the field.
This is not Young’s first time teaming up with ACM Lifting Lives. Last year he performed with attendees from ACM Lifting Lives Music Camp on stage at the Grand Ole Opry, an experience that still brings a smile to his face. “Just seeing their excitement, their growth doing something like that on that stage— it’s something I’d gladly go do again,” Young said. From onstage shows to karaoke, the camp provides music activities for kids suffering from the development disorder Williams Syndrome. Through performance and education, the program offers campers the very best of what music has to offer— powerful healing, confidence and joy that spreads to every aspect of their lives.
Music education and music therapy led Young to many charities that also work closely with pediatric cancer, which is a cause that Aflac has supported for more than two decades. The 32-year-old celebrated his 10th No. 1 hit with a sizable donation to children’s cancer research in an effort to raise awareness and funding for the cause. “What those parents and those kids are going through, it’s something that I’ve always kept in mind,” Young explained. “I’m really lucky to have the job that I have and one of the coolest parts of it is being able to give back — whether it’s time, money or help fundraising — that is kind of my thing.”
Young presented the first-ever Aflac ACM Lifting Lives Honor to recognize someone for his or her remarkable and selfless dedication to bringing the healing power of music to those who are in need. The inaugural recognition honored excellence in music therapy and was presented to a renowned leader in the industry, Judith Pinkerton. “Music is one of those things — we always talk about it, whether it’s an award show or day-to-day life — it can heal,” Young told Billboard. “It’s an incredible almost indescribable thing — so being able to honor someone like Judith and everything that she does is something I’m very, very proud to do.”
When Young isn’t busy giving back to the community, he focuses on making great country music. His career is on fire with 10 No. 1 singles, 17 RIAA certifications and 2 of 7 albums debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard’s Top Country Charts to date.