KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Even when AY Young is sitting down, he is buzzing.
It’s like the music the 29-year-old from Kansas City, Missouri, creates sends a current through his body.
His passion for music led him to compete on the X-Factor TV show, tour with Shaggy, open for T-Pain and other artists. And now that passion is putting him on the global stage.
Friday, the United Nations announced Young is one of 17 “Young Leaders for the Sustainable Development Goals.”
“I just finally got that kind of validation,” Young said.
Young’s path to the United Nations started years ago when he created his own way to tour the country.
“I didn’t have the team, or the agent, or the backing behind me, or a donor,” Young explained. “So how can I power a concert? I started that way.”
Young started storing renewable energy, from solar panels for example, in batteries. Then he used those batteries to power microphones, speakers and other equipment necessary to pull off a show. He calls it “Battery Tour.” He usually performs about 200 times a year using his batteries.
In his travels, he discovered there are about 1 billion people on earth without access to electricity. So he started raising money and has donated energy-producing and energy-storing devices to 17 under-developed countries.
“Everyone is an outlet for change and [when] plugged into each other, we can do anything,” he said confidently.
Young showcased his Battery Tour to the UN last year.
This year, the organization is giving him a two-year term as a young leader. It will throw its support behind Battery Tour and Young will collaborate with the other young leaders to tackle some of the world’s most pressing issues, called sustainable development goals.
“There are a lot of people who don’t have energy,” Young said. “If you get them energy, you get them internet, you can get them education.”
Young is also working with utility companies to use Battery Tour as a way to create messages about energy efficiency geared toward Generation Z.
He said he’s feeling excitement about becoming a Young Leader, but also feels pressure, almost a responsibility to make sure his hometown of Kansas City benefits from his new position.
“I’m looking forward to engaging Kansas City,” Young said. “Stimulating this local economy further, bringing entrepreneurs together, bringing businesses together, bringing the world together so we can make some change.”
Change begins by plugging one person in, and Young says he’s the guy to make it happen.