Sounds like no one was as surprised as Tate Stevens to learn last week -- on live TV, no less -- that viewer votes put him at No. 1 among 13 acts on Fox's "The X Factor." No. 1!
"Crazy!" the country singer from Raymore told us in a quick backstage phone interview from L.A. on Monday. "I really just wanted to make it to the next week, so to be voted No. 1 was just awesome. It speaks volumes for the country music fans out there."
We'd wondered about that. Was Stevens polling so well because he has made a lot of fans? Or because he's the only country act in a field of pop acts?
"I would like to say both," Stevens says. "People are really getting behind what I do, and the rest of the nation that watches is like, 'Man, let's get the country guy through.'"
He knows that local fans, including those who've been gathering Wednesday nights at the Belton High School Freshman Center, are pulling for him. (If his No. 1 ranking is due to the Freshman Center crowd, "it's kind of a miracle.") But he's been reading tweets of support from all around the country.
We also asked Stevens, a (former?) Belton street crew worker, about:
-- His schedule: "We're here (in L.A.)," he said. "You don't leave until you go home (after being voted out)." But his wife, Ashlie, and two kids flew there last week to see him perform.
"I hadn't seen 'em in a month," Stevens says. "For them to be here was awesome, just to get to hug 'em and love on 'em and talk to 'em face to face."
-- Choking up onstage: "You know," he says, laughing, "it's very emotional, man. It's tougher than you would imagine, to be out here and the stress you're under. ... I guess you could call me a crier. (But) it's real. It's real feeling, and I can't do anything about it."
-- The "X Factor" stage: "It's a great feeling. It's big. You don't see this (kind of production) in the largest tours, so it's pretty cool."
Will he be surrounded by glittery dancing girls one of these nights? "I have no idea. I might come out with my pants on fire."
-- Song selection: He says he goes in with ideas, and the producer and his mentor, judge L.A. Reid, bring ideas as well. "The best one wins."
-- On whether he can actually win: "By God, that'd be cool. That's why I'm here."
"The X Factor" airs at 7 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays on Fox.
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