Over the last few years, Tommy Atkins has cemented his place in country music. In May 2020, Atkins made history with the first country hit in the UK and Europe to feature overtly gay lyrics. ‘Freedom’ was playlisted by hundreds of major country radio and pop stations. The cultural significance of this has been acknowledged in the BBC Music documentary, Deep Dive into Queer Country, CMA playlist placements, and numerous international awards.
And now, the singer-songwriter has released his debut album, Truth Be Told. Upon release, the album shot to #1 on the country download charts in both the UK and New Zealand. This builds on the success of the album's preceding singles, which racked up four #1 chartings, thirteen Top-5s, and a further seven Top-10s across the UK, Canada and New Zealand.
“The main reason I began a recording career was because I didn’t see myself fully represented in country music," Atkins explains. "And I figured there were a lot of other people out there who didn’t see themselves either. I wish I’d heard this kind of album when I was a kid."
Recorded between Nashville and the UK, Atkins executive produced the album with Dr Ford, working with GRAMMY-award winning fiddler Michael Cleveland, GRAMMY-nominated mastering engineer Pete Lyman (Chris Stapleton, Brandi Carlile), dobroist and pedal steel player Smith Curry (Dolly Parton, Taylor Swift), guitarist Chris Condon (Billy Ray Cyrus), harmonica player Will Wilde (Blanco Brown, Diplo), singer-songwriter Anna Pearson. The collection also includes features by GRAMMY-nominee and Color Me Country host, Rissi Palmer, and heartland rocker, Hollier.
Hailing from the picturesque villages of England’s rural northeast, Atkins connected with country music at a young age through Alan Jackson cassette tapes and Shania Twain CDs. These influences, he says, swayed the musical direction of the album.
“There’s a real mix of 90s-style honkytonk and country-pop on show here. It was important to me to feature fiddle and steel and prominent harmonies. It was also important that, lyrically and musically, there was an arch from the first track to the last. All of the songs feed a bigger story about my love-life and finding my place in the world. I hope everyone can see parts of themselves in that story when they listen.”
As well as his recording and songwriting career, Atkins is the founder of Proud to Be Country, a campaign for greater visibility of LGBTQ+ artists in country music. A radio series of the same name goes out on ARC Radio in the UK.
Tommy's debut performance at the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, Tennessee. June 2018.
Tommy's EP, Kiss Me, Cowboy, was released September 2020. It went on to hit #1 in 3 countries.
Tommy's first award was a Listener's Choice for Male Artist of the Year. December 2019.
2020 saw Tommy win 'New Artist of the Year' with Country Queer, and a nomination at ITV's NDAs.
Be sure to follow Tommy on social media for lots of fun content, including cocktail recipes inspired by his songs!
Kiss Me, Cowboy was featured on the CMA's official Country Pride Playlist - June 2021.
It Took a Woman saw Tommy duet with one of his idols, Rissi Palmer. It became Tommy's 7th Top 10 in the UK. June 2021.
Tommy's debut album, Truth Be Told, was released on September 1 2021. It hit #1 on the Country download charts in the UK and New Zealand.