Chris Young celebrated the grand opening of Middle Tennessee State University’s Chris Young Cafe on Wednesday (Jan. 27) in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The singer donated $50,000 to update the building, turning it in to a state-of-the-art teaching and rehearsal space, and performance venue.
Young, who attended MTSU in 2005, said, “This is my hometown, and this [cafe] means the world to me. Whether they are musicians, comedians, entertainers, people who want to learn how to engineer and produce, videographers, photographers, anything, I hope everyone finds a use for this space. I really hope everyone enjoys it. It’s just been an honor to be a small part of this.”
The former cafeteria, previously known as the Woodmore Building and later the Cyber Cafe, expanded from 3,200 square feet to nearly 4,100 square feet. It features a single large stage backed by a custom LED video wall. Visitors will find two club-type seating areas and a VIP-type zone, near the audio and lighting control boards, that features artwork, framed gold and platinum records and other memorabilia.
The facility will help students learn from nearly every facet of the business of entertainment: music business, audio production, songwriting, venue management, sound reinforcement, and lighting and rigging, along with radio broadcasts, comedy shows and other events produced with help from all of MTSU’s academic colleges.
At Wednesday’s ceremony, The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development unveiled a Tennessee Music Pathways marker which celebrates Young’s accomplishments. The marker for the statewide initiative is the second on the MTSU campus.
The Charlie Daniels Journey Home Project also honored Young by announcing a $10,000 donation for the newly named Daniels/Young Veterans Scholarship, honoring both the late music legend and his younger colleague. The scholarship will benefit student veterans in the Department of Recording Industry.
David Corlew, The Charlie Daniels Journey Home Project co-founder and Daniels’ longtime manager, presented the check during the celebration. “We are honored to continue our ongoing relationship with MTSU and the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center,” said Corlew. “We have now broadened our reach into the College of Media and Entertainment with this opportunity to work with Dean Beverly Keel and Chris Young on yet another mission to support our vets.”
Keel also presented Becky Harris, Young’s mother, an MTSU alumna, and founding partner at Huskins-Harris Business Management, with a certificate naming her as an honorary recording industry professor.
Outside the Chris Young Cafe is an eye-catching “Famous Friends” mural honoring influential MTSU graduates, former students and faculty. Along with Young, Harris and Keel, the mural features the familiar faces of music industry figures including Daniel Miller, Hillary Scott, Kent Earls, Martha Earls, Luke Laird, Tay Keith and Alicia Warwick (see the full list here).
The hourlong ceremony, which followed university health safety protocols with a limited in-person crowd, aired live on MTSU’s True Blue TV channel and was livestreamed on YouTube and Facebook. Video of the complete celebration is here.