No apprentice: Trace Adkins is chief executive officer of his own destiny

Trace Adkins

Trace Adkins

Trace Adkins

Trace Adkins

Trace Adkins

  • With: Billy Currington and Jeremy McComb
  • When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 23
  • Where: Smokies Stadium, Kodak
  • Tickets: $45, $20; available at www.smokiesstadiumevents.com

It's hard to pin Trace Adkins down. His hit singles run the gamut from the tearjerker ballad "You're Gonna Miss This" to the goofy party song "Honkytonk Badonkadonk." He's been a provocative guest on "Politically Incorrect" with Bill Maher and nearly won on "Celebrity Apprentice."

Adkins says he doesn't spend a lot of time analyzing what he'll do next.

"I'm very fortunate that I've gotten to a place in my career where I do stuff that I want to do," says Adkins. "That's the place in life that we all strive to get to where we're calling the shots. When you get to that place you don't really have to worry about analyzing. If it feels right and you think it's going to be fun, just do it and deal with the repercussions later."

It's taken a while for Adkins to get to that place.

Raised in Sarepta, La., Adkins worked on oil rigs and earned a degree from Louisiana Tech University. However, Adkins was set on a country music career. He moved to Nashville in the 1990s, where he played honky tonks and experienced a series of mishaps - the most dramatic of which was being shot in the chest by his second wife. However, in 1996, his career took off when his debut album, "Dreamin' Out Loud," resulted in three Top 10 country hits.

"Early on in my career I got a little kickback from radio because they said, 'We don't know what to expect from this guy!'" says Adkins. "And, I was like, 'Exactly. That's the way it's going to be!' I'm happy with that."

That philosophy is not always based on what Adkins thinks is good for his career. He says his recent single "You're Gonna Miss This," a song about appreciating the present instead of wishing it away, was chosen for personal reasons.

"I was experiencing something like that in my own life," he says "My oldest daughter was about to get married, so when I heard that song it just struck a chord with me. I really just recorded that one for myself and her and didn't think much about it being commercially viable. I didn't really expect it to be a single. That just goes to show how much I know."

At the absolute opposite end of the spectrum is Adkins beloved and be-loathed "Honkytonk Badonkadonk."

"It's a novelty song, no question about that. It's just levity. That song made me laugh when I heard the demo. I thought it was cool so I cut it. I knew when I recorded it it was a single. There'll be some radio stations that won't play it. There'll be some fans who will hate it, but there'll also be some that will just eat it up."

Maturity, he says, has changed how he chooses and delivers songs.

"When I sing a song about heartache, I know of what I speak," says Adkins. "I'm talking as serious as it gets - divorce with kids. With these songs, I've hopefully matured and gotten my priorities in order. I can sing these songs with conviction."

Maturity may also be the reason Adkins did well on TV's "Celebrity Apprentice."

Adkins says he turned down the offer to participate in "Celebrity Apprentice" several times. However, the man who booked talent for the show had also booked "Politically Incorrect," which Adkins had appeared on, and had a friendship with Adkins and his family.

"He knew exactly what to do," says Adkins. "He went to my wife."

Participation on the program would raise money for the celebrity's favorite charity and Adkins, who has a daughter with severe food allergies, agreed to the venture in order to raise awareness on the topic and raise money for the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network.

Again, Adkins is happy to have done something out of the ordinary.

"I don't know how important it is from a career perspective, but it's important to me. I want to explore and do different things and have fun doing it, so I'm going to continue to do that ... You gotta keep doing something different or just get stuck in a rut."

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