Morning country fans,
Another weekend in the books and another work week ahead…which means another #MondayHero to guide you through it. This week R&B NYC is paying homage to a country hero who, despite taking a few years off from releasing new music, is back in the ring to take another swing. With four studio albums boasting an impressive six number-one singles, this 2006 ACM Top New Male Vocalist is back in the studio and playing shows across the country alongside his wife, all while taking care of their new baby boy. Boasting a catalogue that ranges from upbeat, party-inducing patriotism to blues-drenched coming-of-age tales, he is a key feature in many country music playlists and an absolute blast to see live in concert. For today’s #MondayHero, we’re featuring Rodney Atkins.
A Tennessee native, the current Nashville resident released his first LP, Honesty, in 2003 with moderate distribution success. Despite not receiving the sales and airplay that his label Curb Records had hoped for, Atkins was still signed on to release his second album in 2006, titled If You’re Going Through Hell. As a March 2007 Billboard article describes the label’s belief in Atkins and other struggling artists, “Curb chairman Mike Curb believe[d] in artist development…and allowed [Atkins] to get in the studio and experiment and learn the process.”
As time would have it, the process worked for Atkins (as well as numerous other platinum-selling acts), because the 2006 record’s popularity exploded through the country music scene. Certified platinum by the RIAA and reaching #1 on the Billboard country album charts (and an impressive #3 on the Top 200) IYGTH featured four of Rodney’s six number-one singles, including the family-driven singalong “Watching You” and the neighbor-prasing “These Are My People”. With Atkins co-writing more than half of the album’s songs, he displayed a visible, signature style of storytelling prowess and simplistic, comprehensible themes. As Atkins now alludes on this website biography: “Authenticity is everything to me. It’s being honest. Being real. Not being afraid to reveal that piece of you. It’s about being willing to put it out there.”
Since a decade ago, Atkins has released two other albums (2009’s It’s America and Take A Back Road in 2011) and a Greatest Hits album, all while continuing to raise his now 20-year-old son, Elijah, from his first marriage and recently his newborn son with his wife, Nashville singer-songwriter Rose Falcon. Despite going through a dark time in his life after his last record release and before meeting Falcon, Atkins admits that “[he’s] never been a guy who quits”. Taking a step back from the music scene and looking at his career from a more wholesome perspective, he’s been able to reshape his songwriting abilities and redirect the future of his career in musicianship.
With his first single release since 2014 (the March 2018 single “Caught Up In The Country (feat. Fisk Jubilee Singers)), Atkins now has a new outlook on his career in music and subsequently a bright future ahead. The new record, which will undoubtedly showcase his traditionally-featured themes of friendships, fatherhood, and freedom, will enter Atkins into a new stage in his career, and we’re excited to be there watching him.
Atkins will be playing shows all across America throughout the summer, and is a phenomenal live performer. With a lively and talented band (featuring his wife as a backup singer), Atkins brings his studio records to life and engages the crowd throughout the show. Check out footage from his recent performance at Sayreville, New Jersey’s Starland Ballroom last Thursday, and check his website here for more tour dates and information.
Rodney Atkins Featured Four:
- “Watching You” (2006) – One of Rodney’s biggest songs of his career, the self-written IYGTH cut is a prime example of his storytelling ability through music. Penned as an homage to his then young son, Elijah (who happens to be featured in the hilarious music video), the verses describe the father-son relationship in an all-too-relatable fashion. With an upbeat tempo and memorable lyrics, this song makes for an incomparable live number, and was even ranked as 2007’s top country song by Billboard at year’s end. Featuring his signature twangy vocals in a higher register, the song emits a feeling that any parent can relate to, regrettably or not.
- “Cleaning This Gun (Come On In Boy)”  – With Rodney in a slightly deeper tone, this equally-relatable track details the coming-of-age relationship between a boy and the father of his love interest, and vice versa. A dialogue that everyone’s encountered at some point or another, the one-way conversation in the chorus is spoken in plain English and still comes off as intimidating, even when sung with Atkins’ soft, bending vocals.
- “Chasin’ Girls” (2009) – Seemingly a follow up to the first featured number on this list, this song was an addition to his It’s America album, and is equally fast-paced. Another song describing a parent-child relationship throughout the generations, this is a must-add to any upbeat country playlist and another one of many reason to see Atkins in concert.
- “Farmer’s Daughter” (2010) – One of Rodney’s most recognizable hits of his entire career, this song was even featured on two separate records of his due to its popularity. Co-written by Nashville songwriting elites Rhett Akins, Marv Green, and Ben Hayslip, the song peaked at #5 on the Billboard country charts and describes an unexpected love story that everyone can get on board with. Although not written by Atkins himself, the song is an ideal representation of the story-centric music that he surrounds himself with and presents itself as one of the finest notes in his collection.
Follow Rodney on social media to keep getting caught up with his country!
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R&B NYC’s Rodney Atkins playlist:
Plus, listen to the rest of our Monday Heroes below!
And finally, catch a montage of Rodney’s performance in Sayreville at the R&B NYC YouTube page!
See you Friday!
– R&B NYC