William F. Young, Jr.
Bill Young is a multi-talented musician who sings and plays violin, fiddle, and guitar. As a freelance performer, he is comfortable in performing in a number of genres from classical to popular and doing impersonations of popular singers. He has also taught music in a school setting and a private studio.
Bill was born in Orlando, Florida, the son of Bill and Marva Shugars Young, both being talented performing and teaching musicians with extensive experience. Bill began studying piano and rudiments of theory at age eight with both his father and mother. He started violin at age 10 in a Suzuki program directed by Orlo Gilbert, professor at Southern Missionary College, later Southern Adventist University.
When he was thirteen, his parents moved to Berrien Springs, Michigan, where Bill learned to play the French horn in junior high school and trumpet in high school. However, his primary interest and performance outlet was with the violin, and he did very little playing with those brass instruments. He was advanced enough as a violinist that he was invited to play in the university orchestra while still in the academy.
In his sophomore year in academy, he started to attend youth meetings and became intrigued by the guitar. He began to teach himself to play the instrument by watching and listening to guitarists and interacting with other players. He was particularly influenced by the finger styles of John Denver, James Taylor, and Dan Fogelberg, leading folk artists of that time, as he developed his own style of playing.
At the end of his junior year in academy, Bill was invited to join the New England Youth Ensemble and traveled to South Lancaster, Massachusetts, to play with the group. Although he intended to play only briefly with the orchestra, he decided to stay for the full school year and graduated from South Lancaster Academy in 1978.
Young then returned to Michigan and enrolled at Andrews University, attending for the next two years and studying violin with Charles Davis and LeRoy Peterson. He then moved to the West Coast, where he sang with the Heritage Singers for two years. In his second year, he enrolled at Pacific Union College and resumed study in voice and violin and took music history and public relations related classes while singing with the Heritage Singers on weekends.
He transferred to SMC in 1982, supported in part by a music teaching and orchestra scholarship, where he taught violin students and played in the college's symphony orchestra. In his final year, he served as concertmaster.
In 1986 he started teaching in a small K-8 Adventist school in Atlanta, Georgia, before completing his degree. After a year and a half in Atlanta, he returned to SMC to take the few classes remaining in his degree and to do practice teaching under Robert Bolton and Jeffry Lauritzen, band and choir directors at Collegedale Academy. He completed a B.Mus.Ed in 1988.
Following graduation, he moved to Nashville, Tennessee, to explore the world of freelance recording and songwriting. Since the beginning of his guitar-playing days, he had developed a passion for playing the instrument and writing folk songs akin to Country and Western music, but more in the vein of musical story-tellers like Jim Croce and Burl Ives. He was also influenced by Christian folk singers like Take Three, an Adventist Christian trio similar in style and sound to Peter, Paul, and Mary.
His foray into the freelance world was successful, and in 1991 he won the grand prize in the Be A Star national talent search program on TNN. He received a $25,000 cash prize; a nine-month recording contract with Mercury Records, a major label; a recorded thirty-minute program called On Stage with Bill Young, which was aired three or four times on TNN; and four appearances on Nashville Now, a talk show. Since the original competition was pre-taped in February, the prizes were not given and viewers were unaware of the results until the following July.
In 1993-1994, he worked as a chaplain/music therapist for one year at Central Texas Medical Center in San Marcos, a part of Adventist Health Systems. In 1995 he directed the choir for the last half of the school year at Madison Academy, filling in for the teacher who had left part way through the year, and also taught part-time at Greater Nashville Academy as choir and handbell choir director.
Since that time he freelances, presenting programs and performing a mix of Christian and secular folk music, drawing on music by Denver and Croce, as well as some of his own writings. He has appeared at the Opryland Hotel, now known as the Gaylord Opryland, corporate conventions, Pathfinder Camporees, youth rallies, Singles Retreats, and at other activities.
Since the late 1980s, he has written the theme song for the quadrennial Pathfinder Camporees sponsored by the Southern Union of the Adventist church. The most recent was held in 2007 and was the fourth theme song Young had composed for this event. The theme song, which dovetailed with the overall theme of "Called to Serve," was in a Caribbean-style idiom and involved appropriate hand motions, strongly appealing to the over 6,000 young people who attended. He has also composed theme songs for smaller regional camporees and has composed other music, some of which is on the CDs he has recorded.
While in college, he became intrigued by fiddling and learned its techniques as an adjunct to his traditional classical violin playing. He also developed impersonations of other singers, like John Denver, Marty Robbins, and Glenn Campbell and, for humor, replicates the sounds of cartoon characters like Porky Pig. From 1998 to 2000, he performed programs using a mix of these entertainments on the General Jackson, a large paddle wheel show boat owned by Gaylord Opryland and Resort Center that offers cruises on the Cumberland River in Nashville.
Young is presently based in Gatlinburg, in the Smokey Mountains near Knoxville, Tennessee. As part of his freelance work he plays part-time in a bluegrass band that entertains audiences in pre-show programs before the main arena shows at Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede. Additionally, he has served as a host for dinner theater shows featuring a variety of acts. He also teaches mandolin, guitar, fiddle, piano, and voice lessons at an area music store.
Sources: Interview with William F. Young, Sr., August and September 2008.
Songs by Bill Young, Jr.
All Nature has a Voice to Tell 1982
Cradled in Peace 1982
He Gives Us Friends 1988
Visiting Hours 1982 (co-written with Bryan Smith)
Healing Love 1982
Your Hands 1982 (co-written with Bryan Smith)
Making Things Happen 1982 (co-written with Bryan Smith)
Makn' New Memories 1992
Whiter than Snow 1992 (co-written with Don Keele, Jr.)
Master of Nothing 1992 (co-written with Don Keele, Jr.)
Look Until These Hills 1992 (Theme song for the Southern Union Pathfinder Camporee)
Passing the Torch Around the World 1996 (Theme song for the Southern Union Pathfinder Camporee)
Touching Lives for Eternity 2000 (Theme song for the Southern Union Camporee)
Simple Sweet Things 2004
Called to Serve 2007 (Theme song for the Southern Union Camporee)
Recordings by Bill Young, Jr.
We're Just People With Heritage Singers Chapel/Bridge Records 1981
God and Country With Heritage Singers, a special inaugural album celebrating Ronald Reagan's inauguration in 1981 (they were guests at that event). Custom recording 1980
Just a Little More Time With Heritage Singers Chapel/Bridge Records 1981
A Touch of Country With Heritage Singers Chapel/Bri dge Records 1982
See For Yourself Solo Album Chapel/Bridge Records 1982
Pure and Simple Gospel Voice and Acoustic Guitar, engineered by Bill Young, Sr., cassette 1988
Country/Pop Pure and Simple Voice and Acoustic Guitar, engineered by Bill Young, Sr., cassette 1988
Beyond Tonight Single Mercury Records 1991
Makin' New Memories Voice and full Instrumental and vocal back-ups Always Be Young Records 1992
Look Until These Hills Original theme song by Young for the Southern Union Camporee, 1992, cassette
Visiting Hours Voice with Nashville musicians Step One Records 1995
Passing the Torch Around the World Original theme song by Young for the Southern Union Camporee, 1996, cassette
Touching Lives for Eternity Original theme song by Young for the Southern Union Camporee, 2000, cassette
It's Only Me Voice and full Instrumental and vocal back-ups Be Young Records 2000
Echoes from the Heart Voice and full Instrumental and vocal back-ups Young Records 2004
Called to Serve Original theme song by Young for the Southern Union Camporee, 2007, CD