When Trace Adkins was getting started in the music business, he was given some advice by country legend Buck Owens.
"Trace," he was told, "you need to keep hitting that low note you sing, because that's really all you have going for you."
Adkins has certainly made a career with his distinctive voice. It's a deep, vibrating bass. In song, it can ooze sensuality or resonate with strength and sincerity.
Even over the phone, there is something about his voice that just makes you want to listen.
The Deseret News had the chance to talk with him for a few minutes last week about his life, his career and his summer tour with fellow country star Toby Keith. The pair will be in Utah Saturday for a one-night performance at the USANA Amphitheatre in West Valley City.
Adkins, who is promoting his new album, "X," will open the show along with the upcoming country group Trailer Choir.
For him, performing is part of what keeps him motivated as a country musician. Adkins made his debut in 1996 and has recorded hits such as "Arlington," "You're Going to Miss This" and "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk."
He said he will not record a song unless it's something he can relate to or has experienced himself. And yes, that even applies to his more irreverent tunes such as "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk," which is about women with shapely backsides.
"I've seen my share of those," Adkins said when asked about the sincerity of that song.
But to expand on that, he said he really tries to make his work a reflection of life, with its ebbs and flows and change. You can see that in the mix of songs he sings, from tender tributes to fast-paced and funny tunes.
Life has "moments of happiness and of silliness," Adkins said. "There are moments when things are nasty. There are moments when you're somber and reflective."
For him, it's a matter of pride to be upfront and genuine with his work. He considers himself the same "blue-collar country boy" he was when he grew up in Louisiana and worked in the oil fields in the Gulf of Mexico.
While his parents weren't particularly musical, Adkins said he aspired to sing bass like his granddaddy did. He credits a lot of luck and also hard work for helping him advance as far as he has in his career.
"My life has just been a lot of fortunate lucky breaks that have led me to this place," said Adkins. I'm just very lucky to be where I'm at."
For his fellow opener, Trailer Choir, hard work and luck have also been key to landing gigs with stars such as Keith and Adkins. In 2006, the trio signed a record deal with Keith's label, Show Dog Nashville, and they have performed with him the past two summers.
Their goal is to continue moving ahead in the music industry and continue making music.
"I believe we're all natural-born entertainers," said singer Mark Fortney, who is also called Butter. "We just want to keep moving forward, writing songs and moving forward."
As for Adkins, his plans are to head back home after his tour with Keith and continue making music. He said he is content with where he is in his life and has learned to focus on things that are most important to him.
What are those important things?
"Being a good friend, a good father and a good husband and a son," Adkins said. "Someone who conducts their business with total integrity. Those are things I want to be remembered for."
If you go...
What: Toby Keith's "America's Toughest Tour" with openers Trace Adkins and Trailer Choir
Where: USANA Amphitheater, 5150 S. 6055 West, West Valley City
When: Aug. 22, 7:30 p.m.
How much: $37-$67