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Rodney Atkins Celebrates One ‘Hell’ of a Career

It may have taken nearly a decade for Rodney Atkins‘ career to ignite, but there’s no denying he’s hot as a firecracker these days. ‘Cleaning This Gun’ has become Atkins fourth No. 1 single from his breakthrough album, ‘If You’re Going Through Hell.’ It follows the title track, ‘Watching You’ and ‘These Are My People’ to the top of the chart. The last artist to take four singles from the same album to No. 1 was Atkins’ Curb Records labelmate, Tim McGraw.

“I don’t want to sing songs that aren’t worth while,” Atkins tells The Boot. “Time is so rare. I just don’t want to waste the listener’s time and I think that my songs don’t do that. That’s what I pray for. I want songs that really touch people’s hearts.”

Atkins won the Academy of Country Music’s 2007 Top New Male Vocalist Award and this year is nominated in four categories: Top Male Vocalist, Album of the Year, Song and Video of the Year (for ‘Watching You’).

“There have been a lot of folks who have stuck with me,” says Atkins, who was signed to Curb nearly 10 years before he broke through with ‘If You’re Going Through Hell.’ “The best thing has been giving credibility to all the folks who believed in me from my family to my label to management.”
Atkins has been hard at work on music for his next CD. “I think this album is going to do well,” he says. “It’s different because you also can’t do the same thing over and over and over. Is there another ‘Going Through Hell’ on this album? No, there’s nothing like that.”

He’s recorded songs for his stepdaughters, his parents and his son, Elijah. Plus this time, there’s a special tune for his bride.

“There’s a song that I wrote called ‘Living Proof’ that’s [about] me and my wife. It’s our story,” he says. “That one is going to be real special.”

The release date for the new album hasn’t been set yet, but will possibly be this summer. In the meantime, Curb has released one of Atkins’ personal favorites as the latest single from ‘If You’re Going Through Hell.’

“I’ve always loved singing that song,” Atkins says of ‘Invisibly Shaken,’ but says his label didn’t want him to put it on his last album. “I turned it in and it got passed on. A&R at the time didn’t acknowledge I turned it in, but the reaction we got from the crowds was such that I just forced it on there. We cut it and now it’s a single.”

Atkins’ look has changed drastically from the black cowboy hat he wore on his 2003 album ‘Honesty’ to the ball cap that he sports on ‘If You’re Going Through Hell.’ He says a friend urged him to be true to himself in his music and his look.

“He said, ‘What’s wrong with you being you — just ball cap, jeans and work boots, and finding songs that match that image?’” recalls Atkins, who says he creates music for the “intelligent redneck.” “I think the album connected because it connects to me. There’s an intelligent redneck in all of us somewhere.”

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