The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

September 12, 2013

For Rodney Atkins, Oklahoma 'Is America'

Country star performing at Event Center Saturday

By Joe Malan, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — For Rodney Atkins, performing in Oklahoma feels like coming home.

Atkins, a country music star whose single “Take A Back Road” spent two weeks at No. 1, will perform Saturday at the brand new Enid Event Center downtown.

There are a few reasons why Atkins says Oklahoma feels like home, namely, it feels like eastern Tennessee, which is where he grew up. Plus, Oklahoma is where a few of the stars of one of his favorite pastimes — baseball — were born.

But above all else, it just feels like America.

“It’s America,” Atkins said, referring to the Sooner State. “You’re just in the middle of America when you’re there.”

America is important to Atkins. It’s evident in the fact he hosted the third annual “Music City Gives Back” event earlier this year in Nashville. During the event, the country music community came together to raise funds for cities and towns in Oklahoma devastated by tornadoes in May.

Atkins also performed in the USO Tour in early 2012, in which he visited military bases and hospitals overseas, including in Kuwait and Afghanistan.

“It’s an unbelievable experience,” Atkins said of performing for the military.

Atkins’ music is geared toward everyone — more specifically, it speaks on the issues that each and every person faces every single day.

“I’m drawn to songs that are about real life,” Atkins said. “Songs about not that the sky’s always blue or that everything’s just horrible and down-and-out. It’s about hope.”

Songs about, “It ain’t always pretty, but it’s real.”

Atkins said he tries to sing to the “rural heart.” And to him, “that doesn’t mean you gotta live out in the middle of the sticks.”

“A complete stranger helping you out — that’s the rural heart,” Atkins said. “That’s the kind of person I’m singing to.”

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Atkins currently is working on his fifth studio album. The first single off that album, titled “Doin’ It Right,” is due out on or around Oct. 14.

“I think it’s an important song,” Atkins said, adding, “I like to find those songs that kind of separate me from other artists.”

Atkins said it’s not always evident, upon looking at the material on an album, what the singles are going to be.

But, “you have a strong feeling about something,” he said.

“I get a feeling after working on something several times,” he said. “I think it’s a difference of just driving a car (versus) getting under the hood and seeing how it works.”

When it came to one of his most well-known songs, “Take A Back Road,” Atkins said the song became important to him because it was more than just “taking a back road.”

“It’s a bigger idea than (the name of the track),” Atkins said. “It’s about getting right with your soul, coming down to earth ... finding that place and having that peace of mind. (The song) kept doing that to me.”

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So what can people expect at Saturday night’s show?

Atkins said expect to have a great time and forget about all the problems you may have going on in your life.

“It’s about we’re in this together, and singing along and having a great time,” Atkins said.

And Atkins’ message — about the fact everyone is in this life together — is something he’s going to convey to the audience.

“It’s the celebration of life — the good times, the bad times, they’re all times you’re alive and pushing through and getting stronger, and being able to relate and making (yourself) feel that (you’re) not alone.”

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Doors open at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Event Center for Atkins’ concert. Music will start at 7 with opening act Rose Falcon, an up-and-coming country music artist.

Tickets are priced at $25 or $29 and can be purchased three ways: by going to Convention Hall, located just south of Enid Event Center; by calling 855-TIX-ENID; or by going to EnidEventCenter.com.