Reaping the harvest from years of hard work, “Plow to the End of the Row” is not just a Grammy-nominated album, a popular song, or even a phrase from a beloved friend, but a motto Belmont alum Adrienne Young clearly lives by.
A seventh-generation Floridian, Young became just another Belmont musician among the best of Music City when she arrived in Nashville in the late nineties. She’s now living in Virginia, and gaining attention not only for her recordings but also for the effort she’s putting into promoting sustainability.
That’s what recently brought her back to Belmont, where she performed in both the singing and dancing arenas – the former in Curb Café, the latter in the Black Box Theater – during the annual Humanities Symposium that focused on “Nature and the Human Spirit.”
For Young, music is not just a talent, but a passion she has long wanted to share with others in a unique way. She graduated magna cum laude from Belmont with a degree in music business and Spanish. Young supported herself during and after college with endless clerical jobs on Music Row as she tried to make it as a singer/songwriter.
Unfortunately, after some time on Music Row, Young became discouraged, as many artists do, and decided to leave.
Young told a close friend, “It’s just not gonna happen. I can’t make it.” But he didn’t let her quit, and he gave her some inspirational advice: “If you’ve got a dream, girl, you’ve gotta plow to the end of the row. … Make up a business plan and come see me.”
These simple words from a friend, who was once just an ole farm boy, spurred Young to start her own record label, AddieBelle Music, and produce the music she wanted to. Although her music is a unique art in and of itself, she went a step further and created an album that was about more than just her and her songs.
Young created a platform with her music that encompassed another love: the earth. More specifically, she began campaigning for local farmers, encouraging others to buy local and buy fresh, as well as partnering with the American Community Gardening Association to raise awareness about the importance of sustainability.
This love, however, did not always exist for Young. “My parents were not agrarian-minded,” she said. “We didn’t even have a garden when I was growing up.” The green thumb grew after Young worked on an organic farm for a year before entering Belmont. There, Young raised all the food that she ate.
Young also attributes her fondness for farming to her grandmother, describing her as someone who “really represented an era and an age where self sufficiency and people interacting with the land and raising their own food and being practically capable was just the way it was.”
Young has crafted her music to represent a unique style as well as to address her mission for sustainability. “I decided that the difference it had made in my life [was] becoming aware of the choice that you make with every bite that you eat and to be able to purchase locally so that you are eating food that has been raised close to the soil you are living on. That empowers us on every level, but I think a lot of it starts with what we put on our tables.”
The strides Young has made in gaining attention for this cause are impressive, but that doesn’t mean she is slacking off or taking it easy just yet. And she admires the strides some local businesses are taking to support local farmers. “It’s nice to see they are serving local eggs there, that was impressive,” she said of Fido, a Hillsboro Village coffee shop.
With all of her concern for the environment, and all of the time she has put into different projects to promote awareness, it is not difficult to believe her when she says, “I just wanted to be able to share that message because it had touched me so much to the soul level and so I thought I want to spread this word.”