|Birth name||Rodney Allan Atkins|
March 28, 1969 |
Knoxville, Tennessee, U.S.
|Origin||Cumberland Gap, Tennessee, U.S.|
|Associated acts||Ted Hewitt
Rodney Allan Atkins (born March 28, 1969) is an American country music artist. Signed to Curb Records in 1996, he charted his first single on the Billboard country chart in 1997, but did not release an album until 2003's Honesty, which included the number 4 hit "Honesty (Write Me a List)".
If You're Going Through Hell, his second album, was released in 2006. Its first two singles, "If You're Going Through Hell (Before the Devil Even Knows)" and "Watching You", each spent four weeks at the top of the country music chart, and were respectively ranked as the top country songs of 2006 and 2007 according to Billboard Year-End. The album, which has since been certified platinum in the United States, produced two more number 1 singles in "These Are My People" and "Cleaning This Gun (Come On In Boy)". It's America (2009) included the number 1 single "It's America" and the top 5 hit "Farmer's Daughter", which was added to a later reissue of the album. Take a Back Road (2011) produced his sixth number 1 in its title track.
Rodney Atkins was born in Knoxville, Tennessee. His biological mother, who was 19 at the time, became pregnant with him after a "traumatic first date". She hid the pregnancy from her parents and put him up for adoption at the Holston United Methodist Home for Children in Greeneville, Tennessee. His first adoptive parents, Charles Hutchins and Linda Weems, returned him to the home after he developed a major respiratory infection. Allan and Margaret Atkins, who had lost a newborn about a year prior, inquired after the child, but decided not to proceed due to surgery that Margaret had just undergone. Meanwhile, another couple adopted him, but also returned him soon after when he developed colic. After Margaret Atkins recovered, she proceeded to adopt him. Atkins did not meet his biological mother until 2008, and has never revealed her identity.
The Atkins family moved frequently in his youth, eventually settling in Claiborne County, Tennessee. He attended high school at Powell Valley High in Speedwell, Tennessee. During high school, Atkins played guitar in his spare time at events and festivals. He went to college at Tennessee Tech in Cookeville, Tennessee, where he made friends with songwriters and soon began writing himself. In the mid-1990s, Atkins moved to Nashville, Tennessee to pursue a recording career. He signed with Curb Records in 1996, the same week that LeAnn Rimes did.
Atkins's debut single, "In a Heartbeat", spent one week at number 74 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks (now Hot Country Songs) chart dated for August 30, 1997. Its b-side, "God Only Knows", was also released as a single, but did not chart. His debut album was slated for release on September 17 of the same year, but it was never released due to Atkins' dissatisfaction with his material. He discussed his dissatisfaction while sitting next to Curb Records owner Mike Curb on an airplane; Curb allowed him to switch producers, and Atkins chose Ted Hewitt, with whom he had been working on demos. Hewitt also changed Atkins' style from a cowboy appearance and a vocal style similar to Roy Orbison to a more polished appearance. Atkins, Hewitt, and Max T. Barnes wrote the track "Don't Think I Won't" on Mark Wills' 1998 album Wish You Were Here, but he was otherwise inactive until 2002. "In a Heartbeat" later appeared on the soundtrack of the 2008 film Camille.
In mid-2002, Rodney Atkins released his third single, "Sing Along". Both it and its followup, "My Old Man", peaked in the lower regions of the Top 40 on the country chart. He entered the Top 10 for the first time in late 2003-early 2004 with "Honesty (Write Me a List)", which went on to peak at number 4 on the country charts and 57 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song was the title track to his album Honesty, which was released by the end of 2003. "Someone to Share It With" and "Monkey in the Middle" were also issued as singles, with the former peaking at number 41 on the country charts. Atkins told the Associated Press that he chose to record "Honesty" because he and producer Ted Hewitt wanted a twelfth song for the album, and co-writer David Kent had recommended it to Hewitt.
Jeffrey B. Remz of Country Standard Time gave the album a mixed review. He thought that Atkins seemed too similar in sound to labelmate Tim McGraw, but praised some of the songs for having strong melodies. A more favorable review came from Matt Bjorke of About.com, who called it a "confident debut from a talented newcomer."
If You're Going Through Hell
Having been absent from the country music charts for most of 2004 and 2005, he returned in 2006 with a single entitled "If You're Going Through Hell (Before the Devil Even Knows)", which served as the lead-off to his second released album, If You're Going Through Hell. With this album, Atkins once again changed his musical image. He started wearing baseball caps and performing "songs about his life." "If You're Going Through Hell" became his first number 1, spending four weeks at the top of the Hot Country Songs charts; it was also the top country hit of 2006 according to Billboard Year-End.
Following "If You're Going Through Hell" was "Watching You", which Atkins wrote with Steve Dean and Brian Gene White. This song was inspired by Atkins' son, Elijah, who also stars in its music video. "Watching You" was also a four-week number 1 hit, and the top country song of 2007 on the Billboard Year-End charts. "These Are My People" and "Cleaning This Gun (Come On In Boy)" also went to number 1, making If You're Going Through Hell the first country album to include four number 1 singles since Tim McGraw's 2001 album Set This Circus Down. The album's final single was "Invisibly Shaken", which Lee Greenwood previously recorded on his 2003 album Stronger Than Time. Atkins' version of the song peaked at number 41. If You're Going Through Hell received a platinum certification from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for shipments of one million copies, while "If You're Going Through Hell", "Watching You", and "Cleaning This Gun" all received gold certifications for 500,000 music downloads. These songs also made top 40 on the Hot 100 while they were climbing the country charts, while "These Are My People" reached number 42. Atkins also received the 2006 Academy of Country Music award for Top New Male Vocalist, and "If You're Going Through Hell" was nominated for Song of the Year. Atkins toured in late 2007-early 2008 as an opening act on Brad Paisley's Bonfires & Amplifiers Tour.
J. Poet of Allmusic gave the album a positive review, praising the "less produced sound" and Atkins' vocals on the singles. A mixed review came from Country Standard Time, whose Robert Loy criticized Atkins for singing "about what a good ol' boy he is" on several songs, but adding that "it's fairly obvious he's at least as country as anybody else on the charts these days".
Atkins' thirteenth single, "It's America", was released in November 2008. It was the first single from his third album, It's America, released in March 2009. Atkins promoted the album through appearances on Larry King Live and a pre-sale promotion on his website. On the chart dated May 2, 2009, "It's America" became his fifth number 1 hit. Its followup, "15 Minutes", was released in May 2009 and peaked at number 20 in September. Atkins re-wrote the album's third single, "Chasin' Girls", for his wife to make it more applicable to their life at the time. After executives at Curb saw the lyrics, the re-written version was released as the album's third single, but did not make top 40. "Farmer's Daughter" followed in early 2010, and after it reached top 5 late in the year, Curb added it and the re-recording of "Chasin' Girls" to a re-issue of It's America. The label also re-released If You're Going Through Hell for exclusive sale at Cracker Barrel restaurants, with "Farmer's Daughter" and the previously-unreleased song "More Like Your Memory (Always Takes Me Back)" added to the track listing.
It's America received mixed reviews. Todd Sterling of Allmusic and Liz Jungers of Roughstock both criticized it for lacking musical variety. It was more favorably reviewed at Country Standard Time, with critic Jeff Lincoln criticizing the title track as "forced" but saying that otherwise, "Atkins has found his niche of singing about the southern tribe."
Take a Back Road
"Take a Back Road", the lead-off single and title track to his fourth album Take a Back Road, was released in April 2011. It became his sixth number 1 late in the year, and accounted for his highest placement on the Hot 100, at number 23. The song was co-written by Luke Laird and Rhett Akins, the latter of whom co-wrote "Farmer's Daughter". "He's Mine" was the album's second single. The song was originally recorded by Billy Ray Cyrus, and Atkins chose to release it because it received positive reactions from fans in concert. It peaked at number 23 on the country chart in April 2012. "Just Wanna Rock N' Roll", the album's third single, peaked at number 31 on the Country Airplay chart in late 2012.
Country Standard Time called Atkins "the type of wholesome country musician that you would enjoy hanging out with on a Sunday afternoon with your wife and kids." It received a "B" from Entertainment Weekly, whose Mikael Wood wrote that Atkins "makes for a first-rate correspondent from Anytown, USA."
In September 2013, Atkins released the single "Doin' It Right", the first from a slated fifth album. The song peaked at 53 on the country charts.
Family and personal life
He married Tammy Jo McDonald in 1998,  and the two had a son named Elijah. He also had two stepdaughters, Lindsey and Morgan, from McDonald's previous marriage. Atkins was arrested in November 2011 for allegedly trying to smother McDonald with a pillow, while his ten-year-old son watched. He was released on $2,500 bail three hours after the arrest, and was ordered by Williamson County, Tennessee court to take an anger assessment which found no need for any further action. The altercation was disputed by Atkins' lawyer, who stated that it was purely verbal. Atkins filed for divorce within twenty-four hours of the alleged assault. The divorce was final September 2012. In February 2012, Atkins was cleared of the domestic assault charge.
Awards and nominations
|2006||Academy of Country Music||Top New Male Vocalist||Won|
|Song of the Year ("If You're Going Through Hell")||Nominated|
|2007||Top Male Vocalist||Nominated|
|Album of the Year (If You're Going Through Hell)||Nominated|
|Song of the Year ("Watching You")||Nominated|
|Video of the Year ("Watching You")||Nominated|
|Country Music Association||Horizon Award||Nominated|
|2008||New Artist of the Year||Nominated|
- Studio albums
- Number-one singles
- "If You're Going Through Hell (Before the Devil Even Knows)" (2006)
- "Watching You" (2007)
- "These Are My People" (2007)
- "Cleaning This Gun (Come On In Boy)" (2008)
- "It's America" (2009)
- "Take a Back Road" (2011)
- Brown, Marisa. "Rodney Atkins biography". Allmusic. Retrieved February 28, 2008.
- Mease, Jason (October 13, 2011). "Rodney Atkins Meets Birth Mother, Shares Story on GAC". Great American Country. Retrieved March 7, 2012.
- Atkins, Rodney (July 2007). "What's in a name". Guideposts: 40–43.
- "Rodney Atkins bringings "regular guy" songs, demeanor tonight to Durant show | BAM's Blog". Blog.newsok.com. Retrieved May 19, 2010.
- Partridge, Kenneth (October 12, 2011). "Rodney Atkins Reveals Details of Reunion With Birth Mother". The Boot. Retrieved March 7, 2012.
- "Atkins Says Adoptive Family Inspires Him". Rodney Atkins.com. May 5, 2009. Retrieved March 7, 2012.
- "Improving with age: Rodney Atkins perseveres and prospers". Billboard: 46. March 17, 2007.
- Price, Deborah Evans (December 6, 2003). "'Honesty' pays off for Rodney Atkins". Billboard: 32.
- Whitburn, Joel (2008). Hot Country Songs 1944 to 2008. Record Research, Inc. p. 35. ISBN 0-89820-177-2.
- Wish You Were Here (CD liner notes). Mark Wills. Mercury Records. 1998. 36317.
- Morris, Edward (July 19, 2006). "Rodney Atkins' Joys of "Hell"". CMT. Retrieved April 16, 2012.
- "Camille soundtrack". IMDb. Retrieved 9 January 2013.
- "'Honesty' brings a happy ending to tough times for Rodney Atkins". The Robesonian (Associated Press). January 14, 2003. Retrieved March 7, 2012.
- Remz, Jeffrey B. "Honesty review". Country Standard Time. Retrieved March 7, 2012.
- Bjorke, Matt. "Honesty review". About.com. Retrieved March 7, 2012.
- Price, Deborah Evans (April 25, 2009). "To 'Hell' and Back". Billboard: 40.
- "Looking Back at Country Music in 2006". About.com. Retrieved March 6, 2012.
- Morris, Edward (March 29, 2007). "Rodney Atkins Celebrates Hit Single, Album and a Birthday". CMT. Retrieved March 7, 2012.
- "Best of 2007: Country Songs". Billboard. Retrieved March 7, 2012.
- Horner, Alanna (April 7, 2008). "Story Behind the Song". Country Weekly 15 (7): 15.
- "Stronger Than Time". Allmusic. Retrieved March 7, 2012.
- "American singles certifications – Rodney Atkins – Cleaning This Gun". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select ', then click SEARCH
- "Search results for Rodney Atkins". Academy of Country Music. Retrieved March 11, 2012.
- "Brad Paisley Plans 2008 Dates With Rodney Atkins". CMT. October 8, 2007. Retrieved April 16, 2012.
- Poet, J. "If You're Going Through Hell review". Allmusic. Retrieved March 7, 2012.
- Loy, Robert. "If You're Going Through Hell review". Country Standard Time. Retrieved March 7, 2012.
- Morton, Jr., Ken (November 10, 2009). "Catching Up With Rodney Atkins". The 9513. Retrieved March 11, 2012.
- Jungers, Liz (June 29, 2010). "It's America review". Roughstock. Retrieved July 2, 2010.
- "Rodney Atkins Releasing Album Through Cracker Barrel Stores on Sept. 6". CMT. August 18, 2010. Retrieved March 17, 2012.
- Sterling, Todd. "It's America review". Allmusic. Retrieved September 29, 2009.
- Lincoln, Jeff. "it's America review". Country Standard Time. Retrieved March 11, 2012.
- "Chart history for Rodney Atkins". Allmusic. Retrieved April 16, 2012.
- Conaway, Alanna (October 5, 2011). "Rodney Atkins Celebrates the ‘Back Road’ That Took Him to No. 1". Taste of Country. Retrieved March 11, 2012.
- Conaway, Alanna (November 28, 2011). "Rodney Atkins Takes Pride in Recording Songs Like ‘He’s Mine’". Taste of Country. Retrieved March 11, 2012.
- Dukes, Billy (May 13, 2012). "Rodney Atkins, ‘Just Wanna Rock N’ Roll’ – Song Review". Taste of Country. Retrieved May 14, 2012.
- Blumhagen, Dustin. "Take a Back Road review". Country Standard Time. Retrieved March 11, 2012.
- Wood, Mikael (October 4, 2011). "Take a Back Road review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved March 12, 2012.
- "Rodney Atkins, ‘Doin’ It Right’ [Listen]". Taste of Country. 23 September 2013. Retrieved 22 February 2014.
- Morris, Edward (December 15, 2011). "Rodney Atkins' Marriage Dissolved Quickly After Wife Charged Assault". CMT. Retrieved March 11, 2012.
- Guynn, Susan (February 12, 2009). "Rodney Atkins sings songs about real life". Frederick News-Post. Retrieved March 11, 2012.
- "Rodney Atkins talks about raising teenaged daughters". People. January 7, 2008. Retrieved March 11, 2012.
- Schmitt, Brad (February 8, 2012). "Rodney Atkins Cleared of Domestic Assault Charge". Country Weekly. Retrieved March 11, 2012.
- Larkin, Mike (February 8, 2012). "'I'm so thankful': Country star Rodney Atkins avoids jail after being accused of trying to suffocate wife with a pillow". Daily Mail. Retrieved March 11, 2012.
- Dukes, Billy (6 June 2013). "Rodney Atkins Engaged to Rose Falcon". Taste of Country. Retrieved 11 June 2013.
- Sciarretto, Amy (11 November 2013). "Rodney Atkins Marries Rose Falcon". Taste of Country. Retrieved 12 November 2013.
- Fabian, Shelly. "Winners at the 2007 Country Music Association Awards". About.com. Retrieved March 11, 2012.
- "Rodney Atkins, Kellie Pickler, Reese Witherspoon Join CMA Awards". CMT. October 28, 2008. Retrieved March 11, 2012.