For students, staff and the community, it’s a way to say “welcome back” with songs.
For Ricky Young, it’s bound to be a good weekend.
Young’s birthday falls on Friday, one day before taking the stage as the opening act for Saturday’s benefit concert featuring Grammy award-winning Darius Rucker.
The concert is presented by South State Bank and Coastal Carolina University, organized by the university’s Office of Philanthropy. Concert proceeds will fund student scholarships.
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Approximately 3,300 people are expected to attend the event, which has been sold out since tickets went on sale in May.
Young is set to perform at an athletic gala on Friday at CCU, as well as at the Darius Rucker After Party at the Boathouse in Myrtle Beach following Saturday’s concert.
Both musicians are University of South Carolina alumni and former athletes, as well as S.C. natives who share Nashville, where Young lives and Rucker records, yet the two have never met.
Working as a professional umpire for five years, Young used down time to write while honing his skills as a musician.
It took eight years of “playing bar gigs all over the place” before he began touring, but Young has since opened for Blake Shelton, Reba McEntire, Lee Brice, the Eli Young Band and many other well-known names.
But meeting the man he credits as his influence and inspiration has alluded him until now.
“I didn’t pick up a guitar until I was 17,” said Young, who has been a huge Rucker fan for as long as he can remember. “The first song I learned to play was ‘Let her Cry.’”
Diane Fabiano, director of annual giving in the Office of Philanthropy said credit for the line-up goes to Mark Roach, vice president for philanthropy, who had a college roommate and a mutual friend who knew both Rucker and Young.
“It’s a great way to kick off the school year and welcome students and the community to the campus,” Fabiano said.
According to his website, www.rickyyoung.com, Young met Grammy-winning producer Nick Autry in 2011 at a benefit show in North Carolina. The two “hit it off instantaneously,” said Young, who began traveling to Nashville to record “Spinning My Wheels” with Autry.
Young said he’s “not your typical musician” and still holds down a full-time sales job while touring the Southeast and Midwest. It’s a job that can be done via email and phone, and it’s “the Nashville grind,” Young said.
With recent successes that have included seeing his “Feels Damn Good” EP climb the iTunes charts, Young said he didn’t know what to expect at first, but “when we cracked the top 20, I was blown away.”
“It’s been a long and fun ride,” he said. “This is the best birthday present ever.”