Kacy Young is a hardworking surgical technician at Sonoma Valley Hospital, where he experiences the immediacy and poignancy of life. He loves his job and the opportunities it gives him to witness life’s miracles and challenges. At the end of an emotional day, he writes a heartfelt letter to his friend, God. Then, he sits down at the piano or picks up his guitar and turns these letters into country and western songs.
Young is a natural songwriter. He’s had no formal musical training. His first song, at 18, was composed from his heart, on his church’s piano, in an attempt to win back a girl.
“I don’t know an eighth note from a quarter note,” Young explains. “It’s a few chords all the time.” When asked which ones, he said he doesn’t know. He picked them up from listening to music in Nashville honkytonks.
Young grew up in Elk Grove, California listening to gospel and country music with his mother. Bill Withers, Lou Rawls, Marty Robbins and Ronnie Milsap have been his greatest musical influences. While he appreciates today’s artists, he feels that their songs are missing the stories traditionally featured in country music. He hates to say it, but he finds them “catchy or hooky.”
Young, now 34, wrote one of his songs, “What I’ve Gained,” for his absentee father. “I want to make sure that every one of my songs has a story. I’ve actually lived what I’m talking about. A lot of those things aren’t things to be proud about, but a lot of them are.”
Young went to Nashville after high school and after competing for a spot on “Nashville Star.” He learned how to be a scrub tech and worked for Vanderbilt University while persuing a songwriting career. He had a connection, through his mother, to Joe Bonsall of The Oakridge Boys, who gave him the ins and outs of the business. Young admits that when he first got to Nashville he thought he was “going to be the biggest thing to come out of California,” but he was humbled by the competition in the Lower Broadway honkytonks. He took jobs in clubs; waiting tables, bar backing, working as a doorman, whatever he could to get close to the stage and an opportunity to get on stage to sing his songs. He stuck with it for seven years, learning and taking all the advice he could.
Eventually, he decided the dream wasn’t panning out, so he took to the road working as a traveling scrub tech in 12 different states. His time on the road was well spent; it gave him the opportunity to gather inspiration and find out who he is. He says it has added depth and a vulnerable quality to his writing.
Last year he got an assignment in labor and delivery at Marin General Hospital, met a girl from Napa and fell in love.
“You need to plant roots to grow,” she told him. Luckily, he’d fallen in love with Sonoma, too, so planted himself at the hospital. He can’t say enough good things about it or his co-workers. “They make me better.”
“I love where I’m at, Sonoma, the work, the atmosphere. There’s nothing like it. Just thanks, God.”
But, it turns out that God isn’t the only one listening to Young’s stories.
After playing open mic nights at Hopmonk Tavern and winning several West Coast Songwriters’ Association competitions in Napa, Petaluma and Berkeley earlier this year, someone posted a video of him singing “What I’ve Gained” on Youtube. HoriPro Entertainment Group, a music publisher from Nashville, saw it and flew him out there in April. He met with three different music publishers who are “shopping” his songs to recording artists. He even got to sit down at The Grand Ole Opry with Gary Allen, who wants to put one of his songs on hold. Next week, Capital records is flying him back out to offer him a development deal.
“There I was in Nashville, the Mecca and now I got a call to go and sing at The Bluebird.” He’s made it very clear to the folks in Nashville that he’s a firmly planted California boy. “I never thought that the reason I moved out there would happen here,” Young said.
“With what I’ve seen at work and what’s happened to me, there’s got to be something else out there. I have a personal relationship with Him,” said Young. He likes to drive through the vineyards with his dogs and talk to Him, tell Him what he’s grateful for and ask Him to open doors. “A big door would be to sell a song.”