Rodney didn't exactly take the country music by storm when he first came on the scene. He released his first single, "In a Heartbeat," in 1997. He hit the top 10 for the first time in 2004. In 2006, the Academy of Country Music named him country's Top New Male Vocalist. Two years after that, the Country Music Association nominated him for Best New Artist.
It wasn't a meteoric rise to country stardom, but Atkins' slow-but-steady approach has paid off. Now, 18 years after his first album and six years after the CMA called him a new artist, he's built a long and solid career, with six No. 1 singles to his credit.
He'll be in the Bradenton area Saturday, headlining the 2015 Palmetto Fourth Festival.
No doubt one reason Atkins as tapped for the gig is that one of his biggest hits is "It's America," the patriotic pastiche that topped the country charts in 2009.
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Also performing at the festival is country star Craig Campbell. Campbell's not a chart-topper, but he's produced a string of minor hits, including "Family Man," "Outta My Head" and "Keep Them Kisses Comin'."
Campbell's slated to play at 5 p.m., Atkins at 7 p.m. Palmetto's Fourth of July Fireworks display is set to start at about 9 p.m. at the Historic Green Bridge Fishing Pier.
Other activities include a kid zone, food and beverage vendors. Bring your own chair (no tents or coolers allowed).
Details: 5 p.m. July 4, Sutton Park, 1050 Sixth St. W., Palmetto. Tickets: $5 or five food cans donation; kids 10 and younger free. Information: 941-723.4570, palmettofl.org.
-- Marty Clear