(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)
Right before X Factor came on Wednesday night (Dec. 5), I talked to Tate Stevens, one of the final six contestants, the only country singer and, as he told me, “The last of the old guys.” (He’s the only one remaining from the over 25 category).
Stevens did two songs on the show: Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer,” which judge Simon Cowell compared to taking a goldfish for a walk, in that you can’t do it. Then he did Garth Brooks‘ “If Tomorrow Never Comes,” which the judges all loved. Cowell said, “Welcome back, Tate Stevens, to the competition. Seriously, this is what you should be singing. I’m really happy that you’ve come this far in the competition because, like we’ve always said, you don’t put an age cap on talent.”
I had a good feeling about that song. Because when Stevens and I spoke, we talked all about what a big influence Brooks had been on him. “Anybody who’s in country music, if you’ve been doing it since the ’90s and say you haven’t been influenced by Garth Brooks, you’re lying,” he said. “There’s something to be said for the guys who came before. I pay homage to the man who changed country music. He’s a pioneer. He’s one of my heroes.”
However, Stevens admits he’s also a very big Joe Diffie fan and would love to sing his 1991 hit “Is It Cold In Here” on the show. “Joe sings better on a bad day than most of us do on our best days,” Stevens said.
If Stevens makes it to the semifinals, which is very likely considering his track record on the show, he’ll be that much closer to the grand prize and living the dream. “This is obviously a dream for me. Just being able to do what I love and get my music to the masses and touch lives and tour and take care of my family, those are my goals. If I win, I can do all of the above. That’s the dream,” he said. “And that’s why I’m here.”
So, as Cowell said, there’s no age cap on talent. And there’s no age cap on dreams, either.