“The X Factor” Season 2 has come to an end and after weeks of battling each other for the top slot, 37-year-old country singer and blue collar father Tate Stevens defeated 13-year-old phenom Carly Rose Sonenclar to become only the second ever U.S. “X Factor” champion.
The honor also carries a hefty prize: a $5 million recording contract and a music video premiere at the 2013 Grammy Awards.
“I am really emotionally shot,” Stevens says backstage after the results show. “This is an amazing thing. I’m indebted to Simon and everyone here for the rest of my life, they’ve changed my life. I’m just excited that I had the opportunity and I’m blessed, I’m very blessed.”
Although Stevens ranked first in three out of the five weeks they revealed the leaderboard on the results shows, he was still nervous about his chances of winning all the way to the end.
“Leading up to that moment I wanted to throw up because it was so intense,” Stevens says. “When they called my name I just remember looking at L.A. Reid and I said, ‘They called my name, I won.’ I turned into a big old puddle of mush. We had a big man hug for awhile. I’m blessed and I can’t thank people enough for everything they’ve done. The country fans, TateNation if you want to call them that. It’s crazy, they’re so good.”
Stevens was a sentimental favorite from his very first audition in Kansas City when he revealed his lifelong dream of being a country music singer. He had put the dream on hold to raise children with his high school sweetheart and support their family. Stevens and his wife celebrated their 15th wedding anniversary just a few weeks ago, in the midst of his “X Factor” success.
Now that Stevens has achieved the goal he had by coming on the show, he says his next mission is obvious.
“My next dream is to make this album and be able to tour and live that life — do what I love doing,” Stevens says. “I love entertaining people, I love performing for people and I’m finally getting the chance.”
He already has some ideas in mind for exactly what kind of album he wants to release.
“I know what we’re doing. I know the direction we wanna go,” Stevens reveals. “It’s gonna be fun. I’m gonna have some stuff that tug at your heart, country ballads, but I wanna have fun. I’m a fun guy, I love having fun, and I want that to come through on my record.”
Watch Tate Stevens’ original audition and winning moment below: