Chris Young Chris Young

While it may be tempting to attribute the success of Chris Young to his winning Nashville Star in 2006, his journey to country music's penthouse — he's on a red-hot streak of five consecutive No. 1 singles — was far from an overnight trip. In fact, despite being crowned the Season 4 champ of the now defunct reality contest, Young's debut album failed to yield a hit. But what a difference determination can make. Currently on tour with fellow Nashville Star alum Miranda Lambert in support of his third album, Neon, the 26-year-old Tennessee native has established himself as one of country's go-getters, an artist whose work ethic is as strong as his famously muscular voice. And it's that voice that has him in contention at Sunday's Academy of Country Music Awards, where he's nominated in two categories, including the coveted Male Vocalist of the Year.

TV Guide Magazine: This is your first ACM Male Vocalist nomination.
Young: That one really blindsided me. It's so big. If you're a solo artist, to be nominated in the male or female vocalist category is on your bucket list.

TV Guide Magazine: So next year you'll be shooting for Female Vocalist?
Young: [Laughs] I don't know, it may be a little hard to get in that one.

TV Guide Magazine: The ACMs are traditionally held in Vegas. Is it a mass exodus from Nashville every April?
Young: I remember sitting on a plane one year thinking that all of Nashville was on my flight to Las Vegas. The guys from Lady Antebellum were onboard, four or five other artists, a whole bunch of songwriters, and two record-label heads. It's like Nashville West.

TV Guide Magazine: You and your buddy Blake Shelton, who's hosting again this year with Reba, both have a strong Twitter presence. Ever fret about what you tweet?
Young: It's just a stream of consciousness thing, a way to show my personality and let people know what we're doing. I don't think it's dangerous — as long as you don't drunk-Tweet. Unless you're Blake, who can say stuff on Twitter that no one else can ever say!

TV Guide Magazine: How do you think Nashville Star affected your career? Did it help? Did it hurt?
Young: I would never say that the show hurt me. I mean, did it really help me at radio? No, because we didn't have anything off that first record that was a hit. But it did put me on RCA and got me a lot of fans to help me survive long enough to put out a second record. A lot of artists don't even get a first anymore. If you put out one single and it tanks, that's pretty much the end. But everything happens for a reason and I love the way things have ended up.

TV Guide Magazine: What's required TV viewing on the bus?
Young: ESPN's 30 for 30 series. It's so well done. But, and this is my nerd coming out, I'm a big Family Guy fan too. You don't have to think; you just put it on and that's it.

TV Guide: Magazine: The big question: cowboy hat or not for the ACMs?
Young: I haven't worn a hat in over a year. It's funny how many people still ask me about it though. I just enjoy going without it. And I can see people a lot better, that's for sure.

The 47th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards air Sunday at 8/7c on CBS.

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