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Record Debut for 'Nashville Star' Chris Young

Only one year ago, Country singer Chris Young was leading the house band at a popular honky-tonk in Arlington, Texas. A friend encouraged him to audition for the fourth season of the televised talent competition "Nashville Star." As VOA's Mary Morningstar tells us, that experience has changed his life forever.

"Drinkin' Me Lonely" was the first single from Chris Young's self-titled debut album. It was also the song that earned him the 2006 "Nashville Star" title. Nashville Star is Country music's version of the pop music reality show American Idol. During the Nashville Star finals, contestants are required to perform a song they wrote themselves. Young's prize was a recording deal with RCA Records. He included "Drinkin' Me Lonely" and three other self-written songs on his first album for the label, which was produced by Country star Kenny Chesney's producer Buddy Cannon.

Chris grew up in the Nashville suburb of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where he fell in love with the traditional Country sounds of Randy Travis, John Anderson and the late Keith Whitley. Chris got his first taste of performing at the young age of 6, when he joined a children's theater. During high school, he began writing songs, and formed a band with his friends. Following graduation, Chris took some music business classes at Nashville's Belmont University, but later transferred to Middle Tennessee State University.

Before making his major label debut, Chris recorded three independent albums and sold them at his concerts. The 21-year-old says, "For as long as I can remember, I told everyone I would be a Country singer."

Although, he's busy promoting his new album, Chris hopes to eventually finish his education and earn a bachelor's degree in recording industry management.

In the meantime, Chris is celebrating the Top 5 debut of his first major-label album, which sold more than 36,000 copies its first week of release. That was enough for Chris to set a new record. He has the highest-selling debut by a male Country artist in 2006. Chris's second single has just been released. It's called "You're Gonna Love Me."