Darius Rucker enjoys country music career

ssorich@ledger-enquirer.comFebruary 24, 2011 

When asked to share something few people know about him, Darius Rucker was briefly stumped.

Finally, he settled on an answer. He views the year in two segments: “football season and waiting for football season,” Rucker said.

It’s not exactly obscure trivia, but the mentality certainly won’t lose Rucker fans when he comes to the Columbus Civic Center with Brad Paisley and Jerrod Niemann Friday night.

In fact, Rucker was well aware of the Toomer’s Corner tree poisoning during our recent phone interview. Does he understand Auburn fans’ attachment to the trees?

“Absolutely. It’s tradition,” he said.

Tradition has been a key component of Rucker’s career in country music -- maybe more in the context of breaking tradition.

Rucker, widely known as the lead singer of Hootie & the Blowfish, released his debut solo country disc in 2008.

In 2009, Rucker became the first black singer to win new artist of the year at the Country Music Association Awards. He became the second African-American artist to win a major individual award from the association (joining Charley Pride).

“I think I’ve found where I’m supposed to be,” said Rucker, who in October released “Charleston, SC 1966,” the follow-up to his 2008 country disc.

Yes, Rucker still has faith in a future Hootie & the Blowfish project. But in the meantime, he’s enjoying his growing country music fan base, including the people who will watch him perform at the Columbus Civic Center.

“For me, the shows are all about the music,” Rucker said. “I just want people to have fun.”

Rucker entered the country music scene at a time when artists like Jessica Simpson were pursuing country careers. The genre has grown to include names like Kid Rock and Gwyneth Paltrow, but not all fans accept the widening pool of artists.

Can crossover artists achieve viable futures in country music?

“I think if it’s real, it’s there,” Rucker said.

He also recognizes the challenges of achieving fame through avenues like “American Idol,” a show he keeps up with casually.

“Glee” is also on Rucker’s TV radar, largely because of his kids’ interest in the show. He plans to take them to see the “Glee” cast in concert this year.

Rucker admits he’d like to see any of his songs performed by the “Glee” cast. “Those kids have great voices,” he said.

How about a scene where grumpy cheer coach Sue Sylvester goes soft and sings one of Rucker’s ballads?

“That would be good,” he said.

The hypothetical “Glee” scene seems unexpected and entertaining -- just like Rucker.

Sonya Sorich, reporter, can be reached at ssorich@ledger-enquirer.com or 706-571-8516.

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