I remember the first time I interviewed Trace Adkins like it was yesterday (it wasn’t, it was seven years ago). It was one of my first big interviews and I was so nervous.
I was an entertainment journalist with nine months of experience and I’d just moved back to Nashville when I got the email. “Think you can go to this event and interview Trace Adkins?” the editor casually asked. I didn’t check the date, the time or my other obligations before responding, “Yes! Of Course. I’m in.”
I picked out an outfit that was more professional than cute, decided on a small heel to give me a little boost (Adkins can make even a tall girl feel tiny) and prepped my questions. I’d be chatting with the Louisiana native before a viewing of Celebrity Apprentice at the Hard Rock Cafe downtown.
The night before the interview I didn’t sleep at all. I was tired and nervous but I was also overwhelmed with excitement. My lack of sleep had given me a few middle of the night ideas that I was hoping would come in handy during our conversation.
I got to the Hard Rock a little early to prepare myself, catch my breath and go over my questions. Eventually, his publicist gathered me and two other journalists for the big moment. It was time.
We walked backstage (OK, it was more of a stairwell than a backstage) and there he was in all his glory. He was well dressed in a black jacket and black cowboy hat with his hair pulled back. His voice was deeper than I imagined and he was taller than I imagined. My hands started to shake a little as I readied my iPhone for the recording. We went around taking turns asking Adkins about his time on the show, what he’d learned and how he could apply it to music.
After a couple of my questions, I realized I needed to break the ice. I wanted to feel comfortable with him and I wanted him to enjoy talking to me. So I put my 2 AM creativity in to play and asked the 6’6″ singer about something we both love — LSU football. I asked him if he thought Les Miles (our coach at the time) could survive on a show like this. That’s when it happened.
Adkins looked me in the eyes and let out a big laugh and smile.
I had broken through with just a few minutes left and with several good quotes. I was very pleased. We each thanked him at the interview’s close and, as we were walking back to the party, he gently grabbed my arm to chat for a couple more seconds about LSU football.
Still to this day, I can get a smile out of Trace Adkins if I bring up our beloved football team.