Trace Adkins certainly gives the appearance of a man who has chosen his steps carefully to get to where he is now in his career. Co-headlining the 'Shine All Night' tour with fellow superstar Martina McBride, the tall singer is nominated for two Grammy awards this year, has appeared on NBC's hit TV series, 'Celebrity Apprentice,' and has sold more than six million albums in his 14-year career. But, in spite of his huge success, Trace admits his life could have had an entirely different outcome.

A DUI arrest in 2001 was the wake-up call the singer says he needed. It was the beginning of a new chapter for Trace -- one that doesn't involve any alcohol. "I've totally abstained," he tells the Boston Herald. "There is a certain moment of clarity a lot of people say they have. I think I truly had one at some point about three weeks into the whole rehab experience. I realized, 'God, I've been given such an incredible opportunity here. All I have to do is keep it together and keep my nose clean and continue to work hard and I really won't ever have to have a real job.' It really dawned on me what a gift I've been given."

Surviving a dangerous stint working on oil rigs, a roll-over accident on an all-terrain vehicle and his now-ex-wife shooting him in the heart, Trace says he has determined not to waste a minute of his life. "This career and this life is a gift and I'm enjoying it and very appreciative. I am aware of how lucky I am."

Trace says his TV appearance on 'Celebrity Apprentice' helped with the resurgence in his career, especially at a time in his life when most artists would have been happy to slow down a bit. But it was concern for one of his five daughters, Brianna, who battles life-threatening food allergies, and not his career which was foremost on his mind when he agreed to join the cast of the show.

"I actually turned 'em down a couple times," he admits. "The person who approached me was an old friend, Chuck, who had been booking talent for Bill Maher on 'Politically Incorrect.' I was like 'No, Chuck, I'm not going to do that.' Then he went to my wife and said, 'Look, this is an opportunity to raise awareness ... It's about raising money for charities, but even more significant than the money is the awareness that you can raise.' My wife came to me and said, 'You're doing this.'" Ultimately, Trace came in second on the show, but all the while raising awareness -- and money -- for the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network.

Trace, who has also made several appearances on Bill's TV shows,'Politically Incorrect' and 'Real Time With Bill Maher,' says people are most likely surprised by what comes out of his mouth. "I was initially invited as the idiot cowboy they would want to beat up on, use as a punching bag," he says. "Then, when I went on a couple of times and represented myself the way that I did, Bill respected me, but was also intrigued by me. There was nobody in his circle of friends that was anything like me ... I take a conservative stance on most things. That's just who I am and what I am and I don't apologize for that. But I always try to engage in a civil, polite manner."

The 48-year old, working on his ninth studio album, always tries to pick songs that take the listener through a wide range of emotions, from a serious message like his current hit, 'All I Ask For Anymore,' or the humorous 'Honkytonk Badonkadonk.' And while he chooses not to write any of his songs, he says the song selection is crucial for him.

"In doing an album, I don't have this set recipe, but it always seems to come out that way," he explains. "I think that's because an album should be a roller-coaster ride of emotion. It should run the gamut, take you from one extreme to the other. I think that reflects real life. It's not always up, it's not always uptempo - sometimes there are some slow reflective times and moments."

In addition to hitting the road 'Shine All Night' tour, along with opening act Sarah Buxton, Trace, who recently left his Capitol label to join forces with Toby Keith at Show Dog-Universal, hopes to release his latest project in 2010. He is also appearing in his first major acting role for a TV show, 'Tough Trade,' on new cable network, Epix, as well as continuing his role as comic book hero, Luke McBain.

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