Ace Young must have a good singing voice or else he wouldn't have finished seventh during the fifth season of American Idol -- but so far, he's found more success as a songwriter than as a singer.  The 26-year-old co-wrote the chorus to Chris Daughtry's "It's Not Over," his fellow Idol 5 finalist's official debut single that has reached as high as No. 6 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.

"All these songwriters are taking me seriously now as a songwriter," Young said on Wednesday during an interview with MTV News.  "And now I'm writing with the biggest songwriters in the world."

Currently living in Los Angeles and working on his own debut album, which he plans to release this year, Young described his debut effort as "pop with a soulful R&B vibe."

"When you hear it, you're gonna want to get into it," Young told MTV News, as his album features collaborations with Diane Warren and Desmond Child, both of whom have worked with several other former Idol finalists in the past. "I've played them the songs I've been writing and they believe in it."

Surprisingly, Young has yet to sign a recording contract, something he said Child and Warren suggested in order to have "control" throughout the creative process.

"[A record deal would be] more about promotion and not someone saying, 'Can we have a cowbell through that song?' I don't want a major [label] touching me until the album is ready," Young told MTV News.

While working with Child and Warren, as well as KC from the popular 1970's act KC and the Sunshine Band, Young also co-wrote all the material on his debut album.

"The American public knows a lot about me, but there's a lot they don't know about me," he told MTV News. "Things I've gone through, being the youngest of five, it's been rough. I've lived in 14 different houses, because we were always moving when the mortgage increased after each year. We were struggling, financially."

Young said just "to see what I can do without [a major label]," he released "Scattered" last October, a single that found itself in the top 50 on Billboard's Hot Adult Contemporary chart.  He hopes to duplicate that success with his entire album.

"We're making a theme for a whole album," he told MTV News. "I've had a lot of albums I listen to from beginning to end: Prince, Men at Work, Jamiroquai. And that's what we're going for."

Young has also assembled a band, which features former members of Dishwalla as well as Jewel's and Don Henley's bands, and the group has been playing "scattered dates" across the country.  He's also been busy with charity work, raising almost $80,000 for a children's hospital in Denver with the help of his fan club.

"A lot of people fly there for heart surgery and the treatment they have there. They're building a family area where families can stay right next to their kids," Young told MTV News. "I wanted something that anybody could donate to in the U.S. and it would make sense, but would also hit my hometown."

Although it was prior to his Idol appearance, Young  also dabbled in acting when he appeared on the now-defunct UPN sitcom Half & Half.  Young said he "hopes to act again," but Idol helped him get his priorities straight.  "I really want to show that side of me before I show anything else," he told MTV News. "That's how everyone knows me and I want to stay true to myself."
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Co-writing "It's Not Over" wasn't strictly business either, as Young described Daughtry as a "close friend" and said the two talk "almost daily" and are planning to record a duet for charity when their schedules align.

"I've always been family- and friend-oriented, and we're best friends forever," Young told MTV News.