Trace Adkins helped keep country's traditionalist flame burning during the crossover-happy late '90s, mixing classic honky tonk with elements of gospel, blues, and rock & roll. Adkins was born in the small Louisiana town of Sarepta in 1962 and took up the guitar at an early age; he went on to study music at Louisiana Tech, where he also played football and worked on an offshore oil rig after graduating. His finger was severed in an accident while on the job, and once several years had passed, he returned to music with the gospel quartet the New Commitments. In the early '90s he began to pursue a solo career, playing honky tonk bars and clubs as often as he could, and honing a powerful, wide-ranging baritone voice in the process. He spent several years on the circuit and finally moved to Nashville to try his luck in the industry; he was quickly signed to Capitol by Scott Hendricks, who had produced the likes of Brooks & Dunn, Faith Hill, and Alan Jackson.