(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)
When I talked to The X Factor contestant Tate Stevens a few weeks ago, he said he was looking forward to making his music a priority. And he hadn’t even won yet. But on Thursday night (Dec. 20), Stevens and his big ol’ country voice did win. He was announced as the reality show’s big champ. Which means he’ll get a $5 million recording contract and will relocate his family to Nashville. Stevens had told me he tried the Nashville thing a few times throughout the ’90s but ultimately had to put his music on hold. “My son was 3. And I said, ‘I’m gonna get a real job,'” he explained. So since then, he’s been working for the city of Belton, Mo.’s street department. “I kept playing music, just doing any shows I could get. But music was just on the side,” he recalled. “Then my wife and kids pushed me to do this. They were really behind it. They said, ‘Dad, The X Factor is coming to Kansas City. Why don’t you go try?’ And guess what. They’d already signed me up.” Now that he’s won, his music won’t be on the side. It will be his full-time gig. So when host Khloe Kardashian Odom asked Stevens how he felt after his name was announced, he put God first. “First and foremost, I gotta thank the man upstairs for taking care of me,” he said, adding that this was the best day of his life. And at 37, I’m sure he’s had a lot of good days. But like judge Simon Cowell said earlier in the competition — in praise of Stevens — you don’t put an age cap on talent.