My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Spotlight Artist: Trace Adkins

Like many of his country music contemporaries, our August spotlight artist Trace Adkins was interested in music from an early age. Born on January 13, 1962 in Springhill, Louisiana, Tracy Darrell Adkins was taught to play the guitar by his father. His maternal grandfather had been a Christian musician, and young Trace followed in his footsteps when he joined the gospel quartet The New Commitments in high school. He studied music at Louisiana Tech University and later worked on an oil rig while continuing to hone his craft playing local clubs and honkytonks. In the early 1990s, he moved to Nashville and continued to play the club and honkytonk circuit there. He eventually garnered the attention of Scott Hendricks, who signed him to Capitol Records.

Success for Trace, though immediate, was inconsistent. His first release for Capitol, “There’s A Girl In Texas”, reached the Top 20. He reached the Top 5 with his next release “Every Light In The House”, and his debut album Dreamin’ Out Loud, released in 1996, achieved platinum status. His second album Big Time also achieved platinum status but only produced one Top 10 single. The next album also produced one Top 10 hit but failed to achieve gold status.

Throughout the first decade of the new millenium, Trace’s sales figures rebounded and in 2003 he became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. His singles didn’t always crack the Top 10 but usually made the Top 20. Lyrically light fare such as “Chrome” and “Hot Mama”, aided by music videos featuring scantily clad women, tended to perform better than more substantive offerings such as “Arlington.” In 2005 he scored his biggest hit with the polarizing “Honkytonk Badonkadonk”, which became his first –and to date, only — platinum single.

After the success of “Honkytonk Badonkadonk”, Trace’s hits began to taper off until he became a contestant on NBC’s Celebrity Apprentice in 2008. During his stint on the program, he released “You’re Gonna Miss This”, which reached #1 and was his first single to crack the Top 20 in nearly two years. During this time he also ventured into acting, appearing on the daytime soap The Young and the Restless, and appearing in the feature films An American Carol in 2008 and The Lincoln Lawyer, alongside Matthew McConaughey in 2011.

In 2009, “‘Til The Last Shot’s Fired”, Trace’s tribute to America’s military men and women, became the highlight of that year’s ACM Awards program, and was released as a charity single to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project.

In 2010, Trace ended a 15-year association with Capitol Nashville when he signed with Toby Keith’s Show Dog-Universal label. His second album for the label is being released today. While his records may not always be stellar, Trace is generally acknowledged as one of country music’s great talents. He suffered a setback in his personal life when a fire recently destroyed his Brentwood, Tennessee home, along with many of his awards and career mementos. We hope that you’ll enjoy our coverage of this sometimes controversial but always interesting performer.

11 responses to “Spotlight Artist: Trace Adkins

  1. Ben Foster August 1, 2011 at 7:43 am

    Always interesting indeed, though I hope this doesn’t mean the next Classic Rewind will be “Ala-Freakin’-Bama…” 😉

    Joking aside, it will be enjoyable to take a look back at some of Trace’s best work.

  2. Ken Johnson August 1, 2011 at 8:36 am

    Sad to see how one of country music’s most promising new acts of the late 1990’s devolved into a caricature of a country singer. Blessed with a distinctive voice and a commanding stage presence Trace allowed the Nashville suits to encourage him to record silly, superficial ditties that provided short term financial success but permanently damaged his integrity. At first Trace was a breath of fresh air in an era dominated by “chick songs” but his choice of stupid, insipid material ultimately lost me as a fan.

    By the way has Trace ever watched himself “dancing” onstage? If he had I’m sure that he likely would’ve stopped it by now. He looks ridiculous.

    • Razor X August 1, 2011 at 1:14 pm

      Trace has disappointed me more times than I care to remember with respect to his choice of material, but sometimes he still delivers a good song. I haven’t heard the new album yet; I like the first single so I’m hoping that’s a good sign.

  3. Leeann August 1, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    I’ve only heard the clips from the new album, but they sound promising over all. He’s definitely disappointed me over the years, but “Arlington” and “Til the Last Shot’s Fired” are two very fine songs.

  4. luckyoldsun August 1, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    He’s a midling talent who outsurvived his peers–Mark Chesnutt, Sammy Kershaw, Tracy Lawrence, Joe Diffie, etc.–because he looks a lot more like a leading man than they did. He’s never “disappointed” me–because I’ve never expected anything from him.

    • Ben Foster August 1, 2011 at 7:03 pm

      I can’t see how an artist with such a rich, reasonant voice would be considered a middling talent. I think his main quality issue has been poor taste in song selection. At any rate, I don’t think his looks are the sole reason for his success.

    • Occasional Hope August 3, 2011 at 1:04 pm

      I think he’s got a better voice than any of those men with the possible exception of Diffie (although I like all of them).

  5. Dylan August 1, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    You can hear his new album in full on his website. The album is far better than his previous one (although the standard version of this one is much better than the deluxe edition).

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