NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Few people knew Chet Atkins like Steve Wariner. The country music mainstay and the legendary producer were friends and collaborators for more than 25 years before Atkins died in 2001.
So, when Wariner calls his Grammy-nominated album "Steve Wariner, c.g.p., My Tribute to Chet Atkins” a labor of love, he’s not exaggerating. "This album from the get-go was really more about art,” Wariner said. Wariner met Atkins after earning a spot in Dottie West’s band as a teen, and Atkins produced his first albums before inviting him to play bass in Atkins’ band. Wariner, 55, went on to sell millions of albums and was recently honored by Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI) for 11 songs that have been performed more than 1 million times on TV and radio. "If you can imagine he is a guy who can not only write it but, ‘Oh, here you go, I can also play it,’ and, ‘Oh, here you go, I can produce it and mix it,’” Oklahoma native Garth Brooks said. "Steve really, really knows what the song needs as a writer, a singer, a producer. He makes it easy.” Not unlike Atkins was known to do. Wariner’s CD charts Atkins’ life in music with a mix of the producer’s tunes and his own originals, which touch on Atkins’ style through the years. Atkins is considered one of the chief architects of the "Nashville sound,” which helped push country music into the popular consciousness.