Since he showed up in the country music world in 1996, Trace Adkins has been a relatively quiet but absolutely undeniable force in country music. At times his career has seemed to be almost under the radar. But with strong, memorable foundational hits plus subsequent #1 singles like 2006's "Ladies Love Country Boys" and 2007's "You're Gonna Miss This," Adkins, with minimal fanfare but a considerable range of triple-strength music, has evolved into a bona fide country music superstar.
When speaking of his fans, Adkins says there are "Badonkadonk people" and then there are "'Every Light in the House' people." The first group, named for Adkins' 2005 monster hit "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk," respond most readily to his songs that are big, bold, witty, fun -- the kind of high-impact, scrupulously well done productions that immediately, within their opening bars, announce themselves as modern country music extravaganzas. The second group are more likely to rally around Adkins' first top-five hit, from 'Dreamin' Out Loud', his platinum-selling 1996 Capitol Nashville debut. These people love the way a song can more deliberately present itself over the course of three-and-a-half intense minutes soaked in the stylistic verities of country music traditions. But Badonkadonk people and Every Light people usually get along fine: With his commanding voice singing everything into a compelling whole, Adkins has no trouble seeing to that.
At 46, Adkins remains the same guy from Sarepta, Louisiana who, after singing in a gospel group and attending college and working on oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, moved to Nashville in the 1990s and eventually made a name for himself in the country music business with that memorable '96 debut. There is no question, though, that since 2008, when he appeared as a contestant on NBC's 'The Celebrity Apprentice' and wound up one of two finalists, Adkins and his music have become more widely known.
In late 2007 Adkins released the second best-of collection of his career, following 2002's 'Greatest Hits Collection, Volume 1.' It was entitled 'American Man: Greatest Hits Volume II.' Where the first set featured smashes like "I'm Tryin' (2001) and other songs that had come after his #1 masterstroke of groove and grit "(This Ain't) No Thinkin' Thing,' (1996). 'American Man' featured songs for the Badonkadonk people and the Every Light people like 2002's "Chrome," not to mention the "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk" lollapalooza itself. The set also featured 2005's "Arlington," which moved Adkins into the realm of current events and history. Also in late 2007, Adkins wrote a book. "A Personal Stand: Observations and Opinions from a Freethinking Roughneck," it was called. Although he spelled out his political-social views, the book made sense for Adkins, an artist-entertainer who says he "abhors" show business "soapboxes."
"I've just got this pet peeve about artists in general," he says, "whether they be actors or writers, painters, singers, whatever, who think that because of what they do that they're more enlightened in some sense, that they're more in touch with that deeper spiritual side than everybody else. I resent that. I don't agree with it. I think that it is a pious attitude. I don't like to go to a concert and hear someone get up there and preach his or her political opinions. It's not what I came for. If you want to do that, write a book." So Adkins did just that.
When he travels these days, Adkins says, he gets recognized more than he used to be before he performed so well on 'The Celebrity Apprentice'. Along with the consistent accumulation of his signature music over the years, Adkins' television appearances have further revealed him as the smart, articulate singer his recordings have always indicated that he is. Of course, the “Badonkadonk” people and the “Every Light” people already knew.