Rodney Atkins makes it a point to always spend time signing autographs, posing for photographs, playing charity events and otherwise reaching out to his fans. Now that the title track of Atkins' October 4 release, 'Take a Back Road,' has become his fastest rising single ever, don't expect any of that to change. He points to one of his musical idols, Garth Brooks, as an example he will continue to follow.

"Garth not only influenced but inspired me," Atkins tells Taste of Country. "Garth influenced me to believe that no matter what your dream, you had to chase your dreams and you could get there. I believed him. He got to me on that level. I always loved to sing, but I never thought I could get up in front of an audience and sing."

Atkins has come a long way from his first gig at "a little pizza joint, and I slopped the water right out of the glass before I could get a drink. I was so nervous" -- but he's still taking a page from Brooks' book and works to reach his fans on a very personal level.

"Everywhere you go, someone has something [exceptional] to say about Garth, how he went out of his way to help someone," says Atkins, noting how Brooks' rescue of two Oklahoma boys from a house fire last year is only one of many ways he's been a good samaritan despite his superstar status. "He really impacts people on a very human level."

Although he's only met Brooks once, he said that meeting left an indelible mark on his memory. It all happened in 2008 at the ACM Awards in Las Vegas when Atkins was walking backstage with his son, Elijah, and suddenly saw a familiar face.

"I was trying to get back before they came back from a commercial break. So I was carrying Elijah and I looked up and there was Garth. He turned around square in front of me with those bright eyes and smiled real big and said 'Rodney, hey man, What's up? How you doing?'" said Atkins. "I was just floored. He's just that genuine."