December 21, 2012 12:06pm PT by Sophie Schillaci
'X Factor' Winner Tate Stevens on L.A. Reid, Moving to Nashville and What's Next
In mere months, 37-year-old Tate Stevens went from laying concrete in Belton, Mo., to winning a $5 million recording contract on national television.
But was the lovable family man changed in the process?
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"It hasn't changed me as a person at all," Stevens told reporters after Thursday night's win on season two of Fox's The X Factor. "My tax bracket just changed, I guess."
Financial windfall aside, Stevens' lifestyle is about to change significantly as he relocates from his family home in Missouri to Nashville, where is he due to begin work on his debut album as soon as Jan. 2.
"This is a life that I've always wanted to give my family and finally I got the opportunity," the singer said, though the whole Stevens clan won't be Music City-bound right away.
"My son wants to graduate high school with his buddies, so we're gonna try to make that happen, and I'll commute back and forth as long as I have to," Stevens told reporters. "But we're definitely moving."
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With Jan. 2 looming, Stevens still has about a week and a half of holiday downtime. So what does he have planned?
"I know I'm gonna go home, and I know I'm gonna get in my bed with my wife and kids and my dogs, and I'm not doing anything for a couple days," the singer confided.
Stevens found an unlikely ally during the competition in mentor L.A. Reid, with the Epic Records chairman -- who has guided the careers of Justin Bieber, Rihanna, Usher and Mariah Carey, to name a few -- even sporting a black cowboy hat in support of his final contestant.
"I had no idea he was even gonna put it on. It was cool, I loved it," said Stevens. "The first night that he wore it, I walked out and was like, 'What?!' That felt good, though. He's believed in me the whole time, and that was, for me, that's huge. He's L.A. Reid. He runs a major record label. For him to believe, that's awesome."
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And Reid undoubtedly will continue to mentor Stevens as he records his debut album via Syco/Epic Records. While the artist expects to record a few "tug-at-your-heart country ballads," he said the overall theme of his first release will be "fun" and that he hopes to co-write "half the record."
"I'm gonna dance with the one that got me here, as they say," he explained, later noting that he someday hopes to be a member of the Grand Ole Opry. "It's gonna be country, and it's gonna be a lot of fun. … I'm excited."
Might Stevens pick up an instrument during the recording process, as well? The singer says he plays both guitar and drums but is "not a musical wizard or anything. … I beat around on them a little bit." As for future collaborations, well, Stevens has wish list already going.
"Guys I want to get in a room, Luke Laird and Kim Tribble -- the list is huge," he said. "I think when I get there we will see what happens. Some guys I got to get in the room with."
Email: Sophie.Schillaci@THR.com; Twitter: @SophieSchillaci
With reporting by Shirley Halperin