His dream came true after he had given up on his dream.
Right after he got out of high school, Tate Stevens started touring around the country chasing country music stardom. He released an album with his band Dixie Cadillacs that not too many people bought, but mostly just ground out a living playing in clubs.
"It was fun," he said. "But I wasn't getting anywhere. My son was 3 years old at the time. I went home and got a construction job."
He still played music on weekends around his Missouri hometown, and released as solo album that wasn't much more successful than the last.
He wasn't going to be a star, but he was living a different kind of dream. He was providing for his family.
"I don't have any regrets," he said. "I'm a dad first."
The family -- which now includes his wife, their 16-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter -- used to like to watch shows like "American Idol," "The Voice" and "The X Factor." Then they saw commercials about "The X Factor" coming to Kansas City, not far from home. His family told him he should go.
"I said, 'No way,' " Stevens said. "They said, 'We already signed you up.' "
That conversation occurred just last March. In December, he was named the 2012 "X Factor" winner. A few weeks later, he was in the studio, recording a new self-titled album, which was released April 23.
Now he's touring the country with his five-piece band. He'll be at Joyland May 2.
"I wanted the album to be a reflection of who I am," he said. "I'm a fun guy, and I think that comes through."
The album's mostly up-tempo stuff, with a few ballads. He penned three of the songs himself, and had a few other songs that didn't quite make the cut. He cared more about getting the best possible material on the album, and less about who wrote it.
"I wanted an album that could listen too all the way through, all 11 songs, without having to skip past track 4 and track 5, like you can with a Merle Haggard album," Stevens said. "And I think we came pretty close."
Fans who come see his concert at Joyland will hear the whole album, including the single, "Power of a Love Song."
"We also do some cover songs, some of the stuff I grew up with, and a little rock," he said. "We do some Alabama and even some Journey."
Details: 10 p.m. May 2, Joyland, 5520 14th St. W., Bradenton. Tickets: $10. Information: 941-756-6060 or www.joylandcountry.com.
Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-748-0411, ext. 7919. Follow twitter.com/martinclear.