One day, a man named John Milam, who had been his booking agent with Bayou, phoned and asked if Adkins was still singing. Adkins told him no. Milam said, "You're going to have to look at yourself in the mirror when you get to be 50 years old and ask yourself the question, 'I wonder what would have happened if?"

That thought scared Adkins worse than selling his house and moving to Nashville, so he headed to Music City in 1992 with a new wife and two little daughters and got a "little gig in a little bitty beer joint" called Tillie's and Lucy's.

Much of Adkins' music is drawn from his own experiences. His greatest flirtation with death, occurred February 1st 1994 when Adkins and his second wife of three years, Julie Curtis, got into an argument over his beer drinking. Curtis grabbed the family's .38 pistol.

"Being a macho guy like I am, I tried to scare it out of her hand," he recalled to Samantha Miller of People. I said, 'Give me the gun, or I'm gonna take it away from you...." Despite the threat, Curtis reacted by firing the gun.

"The bullet passed through both my lungs and both ventricles of my heart. What my hunting buddies would call a 'kill shot." He staggered into his tiled Florida room for fear of bleeding on the carpet. "I thought, 'if I bleed on this new Berber carpet, she might shoot me again,"' he writes in his book.

Adkins' torso is covered in scars from the event. After recovering from several surgeries to repair his heart and lungs and divorcing Curtis (Adkins declined pressing charges and the police ruled the shooting accidental), his luck, in terms of his musical career began to change.

"It's a lot easier to sing with conviction, passion and emotion," said Adkins, "if it's something I've experienced. "

After his divorce from Curtis, Adkins began dating Rhonda Forlaw, who worked in the publicity department at Arista Records. One night, he went to pick her up at the airport. At the baggage claim, she introduced him to Scott Hendricks, president/CEO of Capitol Nashville. Forlaw, who later became Mrs. Trace Adkins, told the music exec that her beau was a singer. Hendricks was so impressed with Adkins speaking voice that he went to hear him sing.

"That weekend, [Hendricks] came out and listened to the first set and soon as I was done, he just walked up on stage and said, 'I'll give you a record deal.' That was the first thing out of his mouth," Adkins said.

Was the country singer hesitant about signing the first deal offered? "Hell no!" He said Hendricks' reputation certainly preceded him. "I respected him before I'd even met him.... So if I had the opportunity to make records with Scott Hendricks, I was gonna. You'd had to shoot me to keep me from doing it."

With the record deal in place, the search for the rest of Adkins' business team commenced. He eventually signed with Borman Entertainment. When he talked with Gary Borman, things clicked. "I personally was almost in awe of him because of his professionalism and knowledge of the industry," Adkins said. Adkins wasn't just impressed with Borman's accomplishments, however."What I really liked about Gary Borman is that he didn't have that Reuben Kincaid attitude..... It wasn't that typical manager bullshit." Adkins said Borman's number one priority is family.
"And that's cool, man."
Adkins issued his debut album, Dreamin' Out Loud, in 1996, and it established him as a rising star. The lead single, "Every Light in the House," went to number three; "I Left Something Turned on at Home" hit number two; and "(This Ain't) No Thinkin' Thing" went all the way to number one. Trace dedicated the album to his brother Scott. “He was killed in a truck wreck. He wrecked his truck and it killed him when he was 21. He was a great, great, great kid. He was my first fan,” Trace said.


Accepting his first invitation to appear on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry in 1996, Trace received considerable attention from the press when he took the unusual step of proposing to his girlfriend, Rhonda during the show. The couple married on May 11, 1997, exchanged their vows in a fairytale-like wedding complete with a penned and performed ballad from the groom and a horse-drawn carriage for the beautiful bride in the garden of Nashville's historic Belle Meade Mansion.

After Trace and Rhonda exchanged rings, Trace sang "The Rest of Mine," a song he wrote with Kenny Beard, who accompanied him on guitar at the ceremony. They have since added three more daughters to their family, Mackenzie who was born in 1998, Brianna who was born in 2001 and Trinity who was born in 2004.

His 1997 follow-up album, Big Time, spawned another Top Five hit with "The Rest of Mine," the song he penned for wife, Rhonda. "Lonely Won't Leave Me Alone" just missed the Top Ten. However, it wasn't quite the commercial powerhouse of Dreamin' Out Loud; neither was its follow-up. Still, the Academy of Country Music voted him its top new male vocalist and Country Weekly magazine proclaimed him favorite male newcomer.

In November of 1999, Adkins released his third album, More..., which Adkins himself described as "a little edgier," as quoted on his website, than his first two offerings. "I think there 's a little rawness to it," he said. "This one is medium-rare. And that's exactly what I wanted. I'm gonna open myself up and let people see what I'm about. This is who I am." More... included songs such as "Working Man's Wage," a tribute to blue-collar parents, "The Night He Can't Remember," a pivotal night in the life of a man with an alcohol problem, and "Every Other Friday at Five," a heartbreaking account of a divorced father. All three of Trace's first albums made the country Top Ten.

That desire to release the best possible album also finds him often shelving his own compositions in favor of other songs. "I do write a lot of stuff during the year but, much to the dismay of the guys I write with, I usually find something by someone else that I like better."

One example is "Every Other Friday at Five," written by Steven Dale Jones. Adkins wept when he first heard it. He explained that he has two children from his first marriage and, as he put it, "I've been the man in that song. You hear about deadbeat dads and dads that don't take care of their kids, but this song is an anthem for men who aren't like that. I think divorced fathers get a bad rap, because so many of them love their children and want so desperately to be a part of their lives."

Remaining in the limelight, Adkins in the May 30, 2000, issue of Country Weekly was listed as one of the Top 25 Sexiest Country Stars, and on August 2, 2000, made his acting debut on the TNN original series 18 Wheels of Justice.

He also began to seek recognition outside the country music scene, appearing on the Saturday Early Show on the CBS television network on September 9 of that year. Later that month, the Nashville Music Awards nominated Adkins, a continued local favorite, for Male Vocalist of the Year.

Throughout Adkins' career, touring has remained important. Surprisingly, he never perceived a loaded tour schedule as an extreme hardship. Rather, he always enjoyed performing for and meeting with his fans. As he explained, "Performing live is something I absolutely live for."

2001's Chrome brought Adkins into the Top Five of the country album charts for the first time, as the Top Ten lead single, "I'm Tryin'," proved to be his biggest hit since "The Rest of Mine." He did it with the aid of two producers who themselves are very different--longtime Adkins buddy Trey Bruce, son of country notable Ed Bruce, who handled the bulk of both his previous album and this one, and Dann Huff, who recently has worked with such other names as Faith Hill and Lonestar--and for the first time in his career Adkins took six months off to focus totally on recording.

He approached this project, his fourth for Capitol, with a little of the sort of steadfast doggedness exhibited by the hero of “I’m Tryin’.” It emerges from the industrial-strength attitude of the singer himself. That most recent change reunited Trace with old friends. Capitol President Mike Dungan and marketing chief Fletcher Foster were among the people who, when they were at Arista, first discovered Adkins and offered to develop his career.

Throughout his life, Trace has been accident-prone. His nose was reattached after a highway crash in high school. He fractured his ankle after stepping in a hole and cut the tips of his fingers off while while using a front-end loader and trailer to move some rocks in order to solve an erosion problem at his farm. He dislodged a 400-pound boulder that rolled over his hand. Both fingers were crushed.

In October 2002 Trace Adkins found himself at a Nashville-area hospital following an accident on his farm in Rutherford County, Tenn. Adkins was building a gravel road when the small tractor he was operating toppled on him after a portion of the new road collapsed. Trapped beneath the tractor, Adkins called for help after retrieving a cell phone from the pocket of his overalls.

"Trace sustained a crush injury to his chest and a rib-sternum separation," Dr. Craig Farrell, the attending physician, said Wednesday (Oct. 9) 2002. "He also has bruises to his shoulder and pelvis. He is alert and stable but still under observation to rule out an associated cardiac contusion.

Recovering at home, he said of the incident for a press release: "Well, it's been a solid year since I paid my last visit to the hospital, and I was missing all my friends in the emergency room." Luckily, Adkins received a good prognosis after surgery and made a full recovery in less than two months.

"That accident didn’t keep him down for long, the United States was at war and Trace celebrated Thanksgiving, away from his wife and kids, on board the USS Abraham Lincoln at sea to be with the crew, and he made his reasoning perfectly clear.“I didn’t come over here as an entertainer,” he said. “I came over here as a grateful, thankful American to say that we miss you, and we’ll be glad when you get back home. Thank you for what you’re doing.” His message also came in the form of a show Nov. 27 in front of a full house in the ship's hangar bay.
In 2003, he was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry. The 6’6” country music star looked 4’11” Opry star Little Jimmy Dickens in the eyes—a stepladder was involved—and accepted Little Jimmy’s invitation to join the Opry cast. It was an emotional night for Trace, who says the event was a huge honor and definitely one of the biggest highlights of his professional career. "It was fairly solid proof that at least I would be a historical footnote," he joked.

"I guess my daddy's always been proud of me and everything, but then when he found out that I was gonna be a member of the Grand Ole Opry, that was like, 'Well, you finally made it,' and that's what the Opry is," Adkins said. "It's the top of the mountain, you know?"
The singer's mile-wide grin remained a permanent fixture when Adkins spoke with reporters backstage about joining the prestigious institution. "It's such an elite group of legendary performers, and I don't deserve it, you know . . . whatever, but it's just a huge honor," Adkins added. "I'm thrilled tonight. Like I said, I'm king of the world tonight. There's gonna be some changes made around here."

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