Thomas Rhett is currently one of the biggest country singers in the music industry. He's won multiple Grammy Awards, has already landed 15 number one hits on the Billboard chart, and was recently named Male Artist of the Year at the 2021 ACM Awards. But for the country star, whose full name is Thomas Rhett Akins Jr., country music was always a part of his life. He grew up the son of Rhett Akins, a Nashville star turned prominent songwriter. In fact, the two have even collaborated multiple times over the years.
Akins first hit the scene in Nashville in the mid-90s when he landed his first record deal with Decca Records. Over the years, the small-town boy from Georgia has released six studio albums -- A Thousand Memories, Somebody New, What Livin's All About, Friday Night in Dixie, People Like Me and Down South. He even had a number one hit with "Don't Get Me Started." As his son started to make a name for himself in the music industry with country songs like "It Goes Like This", "Get Me Some of That" and "Make Me Wanna," he was incredibly supportive. In fact, Rhett said that his dad is pretty much always there for him and even helped inspire his own live performances based on watching him as a kid.
"Dad has always been such a constant when it comes to me and my live shows," Rhett shared with The Boot.
"A lot of that just comes from me growing up and watching him play so many shows as an artist. He is the sole reason on a lot of shows where I've not completely had a panic attack: I'll walk offstage and know that I did not play my best show, and he's always the person who's like, 'You know, a couple of things were pretty rough, but overall, it was good.'"
In the early 2000s, Akins decided to settle into songwriting instead of focusing on being a country artist and is known for writing songs for literally everyone in the business -- Brooks & Dunn, Blake Shelton, Jason Aldean, Chris Young, Luke Bryan, Dustin Lynch, Brantley Gilbert, Justin Moore, Chase Rice and Lee Brice. We're talking top-of-the-country-charts hits like Shelton's "Honey Bee" and "Boys 'Round Here" and Bryan's "Huntin', Fishin' and Lovin' Every Day." It's safe to say Akins's successful career as a singer-songwriter has definitely qualified him to give solid career advice to his son.
"He's always been that calming presence and always been the guy who says, 'Why don't you try swapping these two songs and see what happens?' Or, 'It's all right. We'll write it. Don't worry that you don't have your first single. We will make it happen, one way or the other,'" Rhett explained. "So, always, he's just really been such an encouragement and somebody, when I'm feeling like, 'What is happening right now?' he's always the person who comes in and says, 'You're going to be fine.'"
Throughout his son's rise to fame, Akins has been incredibly proud of everything Rhett has accomplished. He's even been known to join him on stage from time to time. But this applies to all of the life changes in his personal life too, like marrying his wife Lauren and creating a family with their three girls (soon to be four!) -- Willa Gray, Ada James, and Lennon Love.
"Honestly -- I mean this with all sincerity -- I'm more proud that everyone thinks he's such a good person, and [of] the love that he and [his wife] Lauren have," Akins says of Rhett. "I'm more proud of the way he's grown up and become a man, even though I can't look at him without thinking he's 16. I don't see him as a star.
"I'm not used to Thomas Rhett being the headliner. It [is] so weird to pull in a parking lot and go, 'Every single one of these people came to see Thomas Rhett,'" Akins shares. "Everybody else is freaking out: Old friends that you haven't heard from in 15 years [ask] 'Can we get tickets? My three little girls love him.' [But] I still see him as the kid who ran into the mailbox."
In an interview with ET Canada, Rhett said his bond with his father makes him an idea songwriting partner.
"He's like my favorite person to write with. Because as much as I think I know a lot about me, he knows just as much," Rhett says. "He was my dad that was writing me doctors notes to help me get out school on a Thursday so I could come on the road with him on the weekend. We've always been partners in crime together. I just feel like I've learned so many of my life lessons from my dad."