By Laura Butler

It’s spring concert season at Eastern and country music artist Rodney Atkins and opening act Fisher Stevenson, an up-and-coming country guitarist, will be appearing at Alumni Coliseum on April 9 to start the ball rolling. While Atkins is a relatively new artist, he was nominated for and won the 2007 Top New Male Vocalist Award from the Academy of Country Music, according to his Web site.

Currently he has six nominations for the 2008 awards, including Top Male Vocalist; Album of the Year (as an artist and producer); Song of the Year for “Watching You” (as an artist and as a writer); and Video of the Year for Watching You.

Some of Atkins most well-known songs include Honesty, In the Middle, If You’re Going Through Hell, These Are My People and Watching You, a song about Atkins’ son, Elijah.

On his Web site, Atkins said the words in his songs are accurate and true.

“Every word is real. I’m not going to sing about it if it isn’t.”

Atkins grew up in Cumberland Gap, Tenn. and began his music career in high school playing guitar and singing at local festivals, county fairs and shopping malls. He then attended Walter State Community College and Tennessee Tech to further his education before making it to Nashville, where he signed a contract with Curb Records.

Atkins has maintained his country-boy roots and resides in a house in the woods, much like the area where he grew up with his wife Tammy Jo.

On his Web site, Atkins said this is important to him because he wants his children to “be raised like we were raised.and go to sleep at night with a ‘redneck lullaby’ of tree frogs and crickets.”

Atkins told his fans on, “I’ve heard people say that good music is supposed to make you laugh or cry – I don’t know if that’s true, but I think that good music is music that is not supposed to waste your time.”

Justin Hobbs, Student Activities Council concert chair, said the committee selected Atkins to perform because of his “ability to energize a crowd, keep his concert upbeat and put on an overall great show.”

The concert committee began to search for performers for spring shows in January, said Hobbs.

“Originally we weren’t even considering a country music act, but as we got close to our deadlines, Rodney Atkins surfaced as our best option.”

“Our goal is to effectively spend the money in the concert budget to arrange a show for the enjoyment of a large population of the student body,” Hobbs said.

“With this year’s budget of $80,000 we were able to secure both Atkins and the Crocs tour, so I think we’ve got something for everyone.”

Tickets are on sale in the SGA office from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and will also be available at the door unless they are sold out.

Students with their IDs will pay $8 and general admission tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster for $16.