Trace Adkins has had a colorful life. He’s done everything from surviving a hurricane while working on an oil rig in the Caribbean, becoming a Grand Ole Opry member, winning major awards in music, visiting US troops around the world and becoming a television and movie celebrity.
This year he celebrates 25 years in music with his first livestream, Trace 25: Still Dreamin’ Out Loud, with host Cody Alan, on February 27. The two will take a look at his contributions and history in music. “I have had a long relationship with Cody and he always seems to find some in-depth questions I’ve never thought of,” Adkins says of the upcoming special. “I look forward to discussing songs with him, going through the history of the song and my mind set at the time I recorded it. I think if anyone is a fan of what I’ve recorded they will enjoy the livestream. I’ve always liked to read liner notes on albums because all that kind of stuff is as interesting to me as the music is.”
When asked if he can fathom that he has had a 25-year career in music, Adkins admits, “Well yes and no. If I look back sometimes it seems that it flew by and then in some ways it seems like it’s been 25 years.”
Two things that stand out for Adkins in his career are becoming a member of the Grand Ole Opry family and performing for the men and women in the U.S. military both home and abroad. For those visits and concerts, he has won multiple awards for patriotism. For his support of the troops, Adkins received a USO Merit Award and the National Society for the Daughters of the American Revolution DAR Medal of Honor for patriotism in Nashville. He also received the Dwight D. Eisenhower Award from the National Defense Industrial Association for being an exceptional leader and advocate for service members. Adkins also supports the Wounded Warrior Project and received the Bob Hope Award for Excellence in Entertainment by The Congressional Medal of Honor Society.
“I tell people all the time, don’t pat me on the back too hard because it’s a selfish endeavor,” Adkins says of his involvement with soldiers. “I say if you have an opportunity to associate and hang out with heroes you should do that. You will be better for it and it will rub off on you. These men and women are incredible people, and you enjoy the time you spend with them. Some of those USO tours left indelible memories, something I will always look back fondly on. Humbling is the word.”
As for becoming a member of the Grand Ole Opry, Adkins debuted on the Grand Ole Opry on November 23, 1996. On June 14, 2003, Little Jimmy Dickens climbed a stepladder to make himself tall enough to ask the Louisiana-born singer if he would like to be the next member of the Opry. Adkins says joining the Opry is at the top of his list of standouts in his career. Since he became a member, he has been privileged to invite others to join him as an Opry member.
“It has been a positive experience every time I’ve ever gone to the Opry house,” Adkins says. “Always positive, there’s never been a negative experience with anything associated with the Grand Ole Opry. It has always been an honor and thrill to go out there and hang out with the legends.
“It’s been my good fortune to ask three people to be a member … Blake Shelton was one of them and that meant a lot to me. Keith Urban and Dustin Lynch were the other two I had the privilege to ask to join.”
Adkins has been on many stages around the world, but he has also played roles on television shows and made multiple appearances on the silver screen. His first participation in Celebrity Apprentice was in 2007, where he made a huge impact for his team and came in second only to Piers Morgan. In 2013 he participated again, this time walking away the overall winner of the season. He also made numerous other guest appearances on the series over the years.
This year he continues his hosting duties on INSP’s Ultimate Cowboy Showdown. “I have enjoyed it. It’s been a lot of fun and I’m having a blast doing it. I ride around on a horse all day with cowboys and cowgirls around performing these tasks and conducting themselves as ultimate professionals. It’s been a treat and honor and it’s been good for my soul.”
As far as movies, he has played everything from a satanic character in Trailer Park of Terror, a ghost in An American Carol, the head of a biker gang in The Lincoln Lawyer with Matthew McConaughey and a former outlaw in Stagecoach: The Texas Jack Story. It was his role in I Can Only Imagine, portraying Scott Brickell, manager of the gospel group Mercy Me, that may have been his finest role to date, although Adkins admits he had to think hard about taking that one on.
“It was interesting because the guy I was portraying was actually a real person and he was on set every day that we filmed,” Adkins says, “I’d do a scene and then walk over and ask if that was how it went and sometimes he’d say he wasn’t that hard on them or other times he would tell me he was rougher than that. We hit it off right off the bat, and we’ve stayed friends ever since.”
Fans of Adkins as an actor shouldn’t have long to wait for his next movie appearance. “I’ve got a couple movies in the can that we did last year, and we’re doing another soon. I’ve really enjoyed doing it. It’s just a lot of fun. I look at it as similar to some of my favorite days in the music business, which are the days in the studio with the band and laying down tracks and the creative juices are flowing. There’s an adrenaline rush to be a part of that. That’s what a movie set is like. You are surrounded by creative people who bring the best with them. It’s a very stimulating environment – everyone being as creative as they can possibly be.”
Another media connection Adkins made with fans was The Luke McBain comic book series, inspired by his tough guy persona. There had been some talk that the series might be made into a movie, but Adkins says he has learned not to talk about a deal until it’s a sure thing. “There was some discussion about it … I don’t know what happened … but I’ve done enough stuff with Hollywood now where I don’t ever discuss the possibilities that I might have a movie deal until I’m seeing the screening of it. You never know if you’re gonna be in the damn thing. I just don’t worry about that stuff… I don’t sit around wringing my hands. If there’s a discussion about something I tell them, just give me a call when there’s a shoot date.”
Adkins was in the top five when CMT asked fans in 2008 which country star would best be suited to be president. The singer says he’s not sure he has what it takes to be president. “I don’t know that I’d be a good president. I doubt that anybody went into that job 100 percent certain that they would be good at it. I don’t think anyone would know until they sit behind that desk. I don’t think they would know the gravity of it. I think its overwhelming. I don’t know how I’d be, but I know I’d stick to my guns, I can tell you that. I wouldn’t say whatever they wanted me to say because it was expedient.”
Adkins has had a great career, and he looks forward to the next 25 years with just a hint of what he might do differently. “[Looking back] I don’t know, maybe I would have worked a little harder, applied myself a little more. I just want to keep doing what I enjoy doing, and I’m not too worried about what other people will consider accomplishments. If I can do this as long as I want to do it, and they don’t close the door on me, I’ll be happy.”
Adkins did have wise words when speaking at a graduation ceremony for the senior class of Piedmont High School in Monroe, North Carolina in 2010. He advised the members of the class to be passionate, have integrity and lead yourself to success. And did he follow his own advice throughout his career?
“Yeah, I do. Follow your passion — of course that is a guaranteed way to be happy in this life. Figure out a way to earn a living that you are passionate about and then you won’t have a job. I’ve been fortunate to do things I enjoyed and was passionate about them. I worked in the oil field and I enjoyed it. I liked the camaraderie and hard work. Then when this opportunity came along for music, I was ready and stepped through the door and I’ve been so fortunate.
“Also temper it with have something else you can do; you have to earn a living too. I could have stayed in the oil fields and played music on weekends. I have maintained those contacts I had when I worked in the oil field and talk to those guys quite often.”
It’s obvious he’s going to be heading into his next 25 years with some great music. Adkins first full-band livestream, Trace 25: Still Dreamin’ Out Loud on February 27 exclusively on LiveXLive; The hour-long livestream will be hosted by CMT’s Cody Alan and feature hits from Adkins’ 25-year career. Ticket link HERE.