Chris Young funds reno of campus entertainment venue

Multi-platinum country artist and former MTSU student Chris Young, shown at center right, looks on as President Sidney A. McPhee and former Media and Entertainment Dean Ken Paulson unveil the concept rendering for the Chris Young Café, a live performance venue on the Murfreesboro university’s campus. To the left is Recording Industry head Beverly Keel.(MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

A new live entertainment venue on the Middle Tennessee State University campus is named the Chris Young Café to honor the multiplatinum Nashville entertainer’s continued support of his alma mater.

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, at an event on July 9 at the Country Music Association headquarters on Music Row, thanked Young for lending his name for the venue — and giving $50,000 for renovations.

A crowd assembles at the Country Music Association’s Nashville offices for an announcement by multi-platinum country artist Chris Young, a former MTSU student, to support a live performance venue on the MTSU campus that will bear his name. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

The café, located in a standalone dining building and surrounded by residence halls, will be a teaching and practice place for student performers and technicians during the day and a performance venue at night for music, radio broadcasts, comedy and other entertainment.

“The Chris Young Café will encourage our students to dream bigger,” McPhee said. “Chris studied at MTSU and then launched a successful music-industry career, so every time they see his name on the café, their aspirations will seem a little more obtainable if they follow in his footsteps and work as hard as he has.”

Young, who attended MTSU in 2005, has an impressive list of accomplishments, including membership in the Grand Ole Opry, 2 billion on-demand streams, 12 million singles sold and 11 career No. 1 singles. He has two Grammy nominations, as well as nods from the CMA and Academy of Country Music awards.

Multi-platinum country artist Chris Young, a former MTSU student, talks Tuesday July 9, about his decision to support the creation of a new live performance venue on the Murfreesboro university’s campus, as President Sidney A. McPhee looks on. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

A global ambassador for country music, Young has maintained his True Blue ties to the Murfreesboro campus, funding an annual scholarship for Recording Industry students in 2016 and donating a selection of his touring audio equipment in 2012.

Located in the Woodmore Building and formerly known as the Cyber Café, the facility has 3,200 square feet of community and dining space with two raised platform stages. It is surrounded by windows, allowing for natural light, and is an easy walk from the Bragg Media and Entertainment Building.

The College of Media and Entertainment assumed management of the performance space last year, when faculty from the Department of Recording Industry began work to ready the café for shows.

Former Media and Entertainment Dean Ken Paulson said the college was “grateful to Chris for giving our students this hands-on opportunity to learn.”

Multi-platinum country artist Chris Young, a former MTSU student, center right, joins President Sidney A. McPhee, center left; College of Media and Entertainment Dean Ken Paulson, right; and Department of Recording Industry Chair Beverly Keel Tuesday, July 9, to announce the Chris Young Café, a live performance venue on the Murfreesboro university’s campus. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

“When you’re teaching students how to manage, book and promote a concert hall, club or theater, having a working venue on campus is invaluable,” Paulson said.

Recording Industry Chair Beverly Keel said Young’s support “means so much to the university, faculty and students.”

“His generosity will allow our students to gain real-world, hands-on experience in performing and live sound,” Keel said. “He is a wonderful role model for our students, not only because of his success, but because of his desire to continually give back and help others.”

Young has given fans seven studio albums in 12 years including “Losing Sleep,” his third project in less than two years. The title track is certified platinum, while “Hangin’ On” is his ninth No. 1 as a songwriter. “Losing Sleep” (2017) and “I’m Comin’ Over” (2015) debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums Chart with “I’m Comin’ Over” becoming Young’s first double-platinum single.

This year brings new music and a new headlining tour for Young. His “Raised on Country World Tour 2019” is visiting more than 25 cities through September including Charlotte, Boston, Philadelphia, Dallas, Las Vegas, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Phoenix and San Diego.

This rendering of the exterior of MTSU’s newly renamed Chris Young Café, located at 319 Friendship St. on the south side of the campus, shows the new signage for the revamped facility. The facility, which opened in 1963 as a dining hall sandwiched between dormitories, has been named for the former MTSU student and Grammy-nominated country musician and will be used as a combination eatery and live music space to help train students in the College of Media and Entertainment. (MTSU file photo by J. Intintoli/illustration by Creative Marketing Solutions)

Billboard earlier this year named MTSU’s Recording Industry department to its annual list of America’s top music business schools for the sixth year, once again joining counterparts across the country as top producers of ready-to-work music industry pros.

The trade magazine bragged about Young and other alumni. It also noted that the program was featured in an NBC Nightly News report that aired on Grammy night, along with a note on MTSU’s now-sixth annual Grammy Week trip connecting students and staff with area alumni and industry professionals.

Alumni, former or current students, and faculty from across the university have been a part of more than 60 Grammy Award nominations in the last decade. So far nine have won a total of 28 Grammys, including six repeat recipients, in categories from classical to country to gospel since 2001.

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Categories: Alumni, Events, News, Partnerships

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