“As an artist, I have certain goals at this point in my life, and that is to make the music that I want to make, that’s true to me, and true to my fans,” says Bates. “I know I have the best fans in the world. They’ve been loyal, and they’ve been with me through thick and thin. I know what they ask for and what they want to hear, so I want to make that kind of music.”
And that is exactly what he’s done. Bates’ current secular project titled “Me and Conway” includes six original tunes and six Conway Twitty classics, one of which is a duet with the legendary Mrs. Loretta Lynn. “My fans have requested for years for me to record some Conway Twitty songs. Me and Conway is the answer to that request ,” Bates says.
Bates is also proud of his current Christmas album, titled “Once Upon A Star”. “It’s a very unique project, not like any other Christmas album you’ve ever heard. It’s the story of the nativity told from the perspective of the characters who were there,” explains Bates.
However, his life and career have not always been on such a positive path. Bates took a dark detour from life in the late 90s where drugs and alcohol overtook his world and landed him in jail. The day Bates woke up from behind the cold, metal bars, he knew that only one person could help him turn things around.
“A lot of times you get trapped in a situation like that and you want to make a deal with God – get me out of here and I’ll be a better person,” Bates says. “I didn’t want that and I didn’t ask for that deal. I simply said I don’t want to be this person anymore … please help me be a better person. That was all I was after, no matter how long I had to stay in jail to do it.”
Some are not nearly as fortunate as Bates when they find themselves in that kind of situation, but he is one of the few who stayed strong in his choice to change. Just two years after being released from jail, Bates inked his first record deal with RCA Records and released his debut album, Rainbow Man. Three more albums would follow for Bates, including Leave the Light On (also on RCA), and his self-titled project and One Day Closer, both on Black River Entertainment.
However, his greatest accomplishment through it all is not scoring his first Top 10 single or having a hit album under his belt… it’s being a loving father to his beautiful daughter, Brianna.
“Being a daddy is my No. 1 job,” Bates smiles. “Nothing is as satisfying to me as being that little girl’s daddy. I try to give her a normal life when there’s nothing normal about doing what I do. One of the biggest changes with fatherhood for me is making decisions based on what’s good for her, rather than just what’s good for me or my career. God gave and trusted me and my wife with this little life, and I think that’s No. 1. What’s most important is making sure that she’s not only taken care of, but that we put thoughts into what we do to make her grow into the person we want her to be. She is so amazing!”
While continuing to work on his own musical projects, his book, working with other artists, and being a full-time daddy, Bates also maintains a busy touring schedule each year, as well as speaking engagements to share his story with those to help prevent them making the wrong decisions in life as he did some 20-years ago. “I share it all through song and story,” says Bates, who won the ICM Faith, Family & Country Awards title for Mainstream Country Artist in 2011. “I share the trials and tribulations to drug addiction, going to jail, finding Jesus in jail, and what He’s done in my life the past 15 years. I’ve been clean and sober now for 16 years.”
Not a single day goes by for Bates that he doesn’t count his life’s blessings. Bates is humbled by the fact that he is an inspiration to others and is honored to give back in any way he can, especially through music.