Hey, Tate, wheres the party at?!
By TIM ENGLE
The Kansas City Star
Tate Stevens, the former Belton street crew worker we think we can safely call him that was declared winner of Foxs The X Factor Thursday night, a title that comes with $5 million.
This is crazy, he told The Star by phone moments after his big win. This is very surreal, and yeah, its gonna take a while (to sink in).
I walked offstage, took a bunch of pictures and now Im getting ready to do a bunch of press stuff.
He did, however, have a message for his Tate Nation of supporters: Thank you, thank you, thank you.
On the show, he also thanked the man upstairs, for taking care of me, as well as his family wife Ashlie, their two kids and his parents were backstage and all the country music fans.
This is the best day of my life, he added.
Ashlies sister, Stephanie Klinksick of Rich Hill, Mo., said the family, too, wanted to express gratitude to all the people who have rallied around him and voted thousands of times apiece to ensure that he was able to make his dream a reality.
Stevens said he expects to return to Kansas City hes been in L.A. since October sometime late Friday. His sister-in-law says theres talk of a welcome delegation.
The shows two finale episodes this week pitted Stevens, 37, against Carly Rose Sonenclar, who favors ballads, and the pop princesses of the band Fifth Harmony.
But, as expected, it ended up being a showdown between Stevens and Sonenclar. At 13, she is already a Broadway veteran, although the show persisted in calling her a schoolgirl.
In the eight weeks of live Hollywood shows, viewer vote rankings were revealed five times: Stevens Tater to family and friends was No. 1 three of those weeks and No. 2 (behind Sonenclar) the other two. He was the only country singer to make the shows Top 12.
Fifth Harmony finished third. The show said the top three acts generated 35 million votes Wednesday night.
Although The X Factors grand prize was described repeatedly as a $5 million recording contract, it is actually $5 million cash, a spokeswoman for the show said. Last years winner, Melanie Amaro, reportedly is being paid a million bucks a year over five years. She got a record deal, too.
Stevens, who has sung with bands since he was just out of Belton High School, tried out for the show last spring, one of thousands of hopefuls in five audition cities. When, after cuts, he took the stage at the Sprint Center in June, he was asked what hed do if he won.
Throw a big (posterior) party, he said.
And no ones forgotten. Posters at watch parties this week at the Belton Freshman Center referred to the blowout. The sign outside the Sonic drive-in in Belton got right to the point before his win: HEY TATE, it said. WAITIN ON INVITE TO THAT BIG --- PARTY.
Minutes into the two-hour finale, Stevens wearing a black leather jacket over his customary untucked Western shirt jumped out of a black SUV on the red carpet and burst into the Beatles All You Need Is Love.
Later, he sang Please Come Home for Christmas surrounded by four shimmying snow bunnies (fans were encouraged to tweet using the hashtag #TateMakesItSnow) and a duet with Sonenclar.
Thursdays show included a filmed tribute that seemed intended to make the often emotional Stevens, and everyone watching, start blubbering. His son, Hayden, cried in the video as he praised his dad.
Nervous/excited but really humbled by that last video, Stevens tweeted afterward.
Over the season he attracted fans of all ages, men and women. Even X Factor judge Demi Lovato, all of 20, seemed to have a bit of a crush on the teddy bear in the cowboy hat, commenting on how lucky his wife was.
It doesnt bother me at all, Ashlie said this week, asked about his adoring female fans. Its sweet.
She and children Hayden and Rylie are just excited that hell be home soon, and just in time for Christmas.
The kids are ready to spend some quality time with him without cameras around, she said. Its been a long couple of months.
Whats next? A record, probably even back in early October, before X Factor live shows started airing, Stevens said he was hearing from record labels and producers. And radio airplay.
With his no-nonsense, blue collar, family man vibe, Stevens is radio-ready, says Roger Carson, morning co-host on Kansas City country station 106.5 The Wolf.
His roots are based in Garth Brooks, but Tates hip enough to cover any current country radio artist, Carson says. His challenge moving forward will be creating his own Tate Stevens brand.
And dont forget the Tate Stevens water tower. The city of Belton plans to repaint the tower with the message Home of Tate Stevens. Live the Dream.
To reach Tim Engle, call 816-234-4779 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @tim_engle