'X-Factor' win kickstarts Tate Stevens' country career

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Tate Stevens won the second season of the Fox singing competition "The X-Factor" in December. He opens the West Virginia State Fair in Greenbrier County with a free concert at 8 p.m. Friday.
Success hasn't gone to Tate Stevens head. His kids won't let it.Stevens, who won the second season of Fox's singing competition "The X-Factor" in December, said, "My son is 16 and my daughter is 12, and they handle it better than I do sometimes. They think it's kind of funny when people freak out if they see me or want a picture -- things like that."Stevens, who performs Friday at the first night of the West Virginia State Fair in Fairlea, loves his new job as would-be country star."I get to do what I love," the 38-year-old said. "I get to play music, be an artist, be an entertainer and just do what I do."I love what I'm doing."Despite the major label record debut and the summer tour, this is not Stevens' first shot at a music career. Formerly a construction worker, he struggled for 20 years to build a music career. He fronted several bands and sang on demo tapes for songwriters selling songs in Nashville, but he could never seem to connect with big time success.That all changed after "The X-Factor" win, and it happened fast.Stevens won the show Dec. 20, 2012."We were in Asheville [N.C., to start production on the record] by January 3," he said.
The self-titled debut record was finished in a little more than a month, which Stevens said was filled with long days."We were doing two or three song-writes a day and just listening to thousands of songs to put this album together," he said.The country singer got a lot of help from friends, as well as friends of friends and people introduced to him by the record company."I'm not the best songwriter," he said. "I always say that when I grow up, I want to be a songwriter. It's such an art, such a craft that you have to do and continually grow at -- and sometimes I can't write my name."Fortunately, I was able to write with some of the best in the business. We crafted some really good things, but it was really tough."The record includes songs co-written by a wide range of established country artists including Chris Young, Joe Diffie and David Lee Murphy.
"I made a lot of good writer friends," Stevens said, adding that he's already working on a follow-up record, which could be out sooner rather than later."We're already looking at getting the writers lined up and starting to write," he said. "The next record will, hopefully, be a lot better, and we'll see how that goes."In the meantime, he said he was looking forward to things slowing down a little bit with the coming fall."My kids are getting ready for school. They're not looking forward to that, but my wife is, I think. Hopefully, I'll get to see some high school football games this year; my son plays. I'm looking to do some hunting, too. We didn't get to that last year." Reach Bill Lynch at lynch@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.
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