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NASHVILLE (Reuters) - The irony of the title of Trace Adkins' new album, "Proud To Be Here," is not lost on anyone who knows the country singer.
Adkins has suffered through several tragedies in his life, including severing (and reattaching) his pinky finger in an accident, being shot by his second wife, and most recently, losing his Nashville home to a fire.
"When (songwriter) Chris Wallin played me "Proud to be Here," I thought, 'You son of a gun, how do you know that (about me),'" Adkins told Reuters.
"I am fortunate that I am friends with some of the best songwriters on this planet. Sometimes when they hear I'm recording they shamelessly write something specifically for me. This song is a great example of that," he said.
Louisiana native Adkins says much of his new album, which was released this week and also is titled "Proud to be Here," was inspired by his family's farm outside of Nashville where he, his wife and three daughters now live following the June fire that destroyed his former home.
The video for his song "Just Fishin'" was shot on the farm, and the tune "Days Like This" was inspired by the view from his backyard deck, which overlooks a lake and the rolling hills of Middle Tennessee.
"The song is very literal, especially that first verse," Adkins said. "Kenny Beard and Casey Beathard came up to the house a year or so ago to write, and we were sitting on the deck talking. The TV was on and some kind of depressing news came on and somebody said, 'We don't need to listen to that on a day like this.' We wrote the song in about 45 minutes."
Standing well over 6-ft. tall, Adkins is an imposing figure who doesn't hesitate to tackle any song that strikes his heart or tickles his funny bone.
His list of hits includes everything from his ode to a certain part of the female anatomy, "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk," to the poignant "You're Gonna Miss This," both of which reached No. 1 on music charts.
"Proud To Be Here" is an album filled with tunes that range from the poignant title cut to the comical "If I Was a Woman (I'd Love A Man Like Me)," a duet with pal Blake Shelton. The singer says co-writer Jeff Bates came up with the idea, and it quickly became clear the song should be a duet with Shelton.
"When Jeff started talking about a guy telling this girl all his good qualities, I said we should write it as a duet with two guys jousting about how they are the perfect man for this woman. I called Blake because he was the only person silly enough to do it," Adkins said.
He added that recording "If I Was a Woman" was the most fun he'd had in a studio, and he called the tune "my favorite song on the album."
Adkins has been a performer most of his life, beginning as the bass singer in a gospel group while he lived in Louisiana.
He released his first album, "Dreamin' Out Loud" in 1996, and says he keeps his music fresh by working with new people and getting a different perspective on his career.
"Proud to be Here," for instance, marks the first time he had worked with (producer) Mark Wright, and Adkins added that (songwriter/producer) Kenny Beard, with whom he has worked before, "always challenges me in the studio."
"Anytime you're in a room with people that are that creative and talented, it's inspiring," he said. "That never gets old to me; I enjoy the process. Going in the studio and then going out and performing live, those are the things that keep me doing this."
"Proud to be Here" was released in two packages, a regular 10-song CD and a deluxe, 14-song edition, which is available only at Target stores. Adkins is currently on tour and has upcoming dates in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Washington and California.
Editing by Bob Tourtellotte