Tate Stevens had no idea when he auditioned for “The X Factor” that he’d walk away Thursday night the winner of a $5 million contract. The 37-year-old country singer noticed, when he waited to audition in Kansas City, the he wasn’t like the others.
“There were thousands of people and I’m like, ‘Oh my god, I’m the only guy in a cowboy hat. This is probably not going to be good for me,’” Stevens recalled Friday.
Stevens said there were moments when he felt like a fish out of water—or a goldfish to be exact—on the show.
“’X Factor’ honestly wasn’t geared toward country at all, it is a very pop and urban show,” he said. “Simon [Cowell] said it was kind of like taking a goldfish for a walk,” when Tate sang Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer,” “and there were a lot of times where I was like, Here I am taking a goldfish for a walk.”
A few weeks into the show, Tate worried that he wouldn’t be able to go through with the competition. But his wife encouraged him to keep going. “She’s like, ‘This is an opportunity that will never come again. You can do this. Just stick with it,’” Tate recalled.
Tate said the best advice he received from mentor LA Reid came to him during the first couple weeks.
“He said stars don’t have confidence issues. And he said you need to get rid of all those confidence issues that you have. Be very confident in who you are and what you do and people will see that and it will shine,” he said. “I’m still trying and I’m still learning, but I’ve gotten a lot better.”
Tate got along well with the other contestants, he said, especially the younger ones, whom he would talk to like his own kids. “I gave them a little advice if they were down or whatever.” He would also cook for the group—a favorite hobby.
As for his toughest competitor, 13-year-old Carly Rose Sonenclar, Tate said he doesn’t know whether her duet with LeAnn Rimes Wednesday may have affected the vote.
“I have no idea what happened with the duet,” he said, “but I believe she has her fan base and I don’t think it would have swayed…If you’re a fan of someone, I don’t think you’re going to change because of one thing. I sure would hope not.”
So what’s next for the newly minted millionaire? On Friday, Tate flew home to Belton, Missouri for the holidays. “I’m going to lay in my bed I haven’t been in in a couple months with my wife and my kids and my dogs, and we’re not going anywhere,” he said.
By January 2, however, it’s back to work, when Tate goes to Nasvhille to begin working on an album. He says he would love to collaborate with writers like Luke Laird and Kim Tribbles. “There definitely some guys I gotta get in a room with and write,” he said.