‘X-Factor’ winner enjoying wild year


He’s got a debut single titled “Power of a Love Song,” so Tate Stevens is probably a pretty sensitive and romantic guy anyways. But he might want to buy something or do something a little extra special for Mrs. Stevens this year when their anniversary rolls around.

After all, Ashlie, Tate’s high school sweetheart, was the one who convinced him to give X Factor a shot after signing him up without his knowledge.

“I fought it,” Stevens admits. “I said, ‘No way am I doing something like that.’ But my wife said, ‘If you go stand in line, I’ll stand in line with you.’ That was March 15 or 16 last year. On Dec. 20, we won.”

Life has been quite a whirlwind for the former Belfort, Mo., street department employee. Before trying out for X Factor, Stevens was plowing snow and paving pot holes in Belfort. This past Monday, his hometown dedicated a freshly painted water tower that reads: “Home of Tate Stevens, Live the Dream!”

“For people to think of me that much, and raise the money to do that, it’s amazing,” Stevens says.

Honestly, it’s all a little much for Stevens to take in. He gave Nashville his best shot back in the ’90s, playing gigs in town, doing the showcases. Music City just wasn’t interested.

So he got a real job to take care of his family. He coached his son Hayden’s Little League team and was the best father he knew how to his daughter, Rylie.

Then one day the 38-year-old winds up on TV, being coached by famed producer L.A. Reid and being told by Simon Cowell that America got it right when they voted him the winner of the second season of the show.

Joe Diffie was his favorite country singer when he’d tune in to Country 94.1 back in Belton. Today, Diffie is his buddy, and he and Diffie wrote “I Got This” for his self-titled debut album, which was released on Tuesday.

Stevens is rightfully proud of his first album.

“I wanted people to understand who I am as an artist and capture my personality, which I think we’ve done awesome at both [on the album],” he says. “This album shows my fun and goofy side in a lot of tracks and my serious side in a few. It’s real country, and I’m really proud of it.”

And his growing fan base is eager to hear it. This past Sunday, he played a show in Kansas City that sold out in 20 minutes.

“The dream of being successful in this business, it was just a dream. But now we’re living it,” Stevens says.

Yep, it’s been a pretty crazy ride — crazy for the entire family.

While dad is jetting around the country, the family is back home being as normal as possible. That includes Hayden playing high school baseball.

“I’m missing baseball right now. That’s hard. I’ve coached him since he was a little kid. Mom just doesn’t do it quite the same,” Stevens says, chuckling.

Back up a minute there, Tate, and start thinking about that anniversary present. Mrs. Stevens is doing just fine.

Brian Dugger’s column on country music appears in The Blade the last Saturday of every month.

Contact him at bdugger@theblade.com or on Twitter @DuggerCountry.