|Saturday, June 22nd, 2013 7:30 PM|
Special Guest Jana Kramer
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Darius Rucker defied all odds in 2008 when he made the successful and difficult transition from rock-pop star to country star. Many before him have tried such a move, but few have ever succeeded, and virtually none succeeded to the extent that Rucker did, and all with just one album. From Hootie and the Blowfish frontman to bona-fide country music sensation, Rucker achieved the impossible, and his future in country music appears to be very bright.
In early 2008, Rucker signed to Capitol Records Nashville as the beginning of a career in country music. His first solo single, "Don't Think I Don't Think About It" (which he co-wrote with Clay Mills) debuted at number 51 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts for the week of May 3, 2008. It is the first single from his second album, Learn to Live. For this album, Rucker worked with Frank Rogers, a record producer who has also produced for Brad Paisley and Trace Adkins. Rucker also made his Grand Ole Opry debut in July 2008. "Don't Think I Don't Think About It" became the first top 20 hit for an African American on the country music charts since Charley Pride's last Top 20 hit, which came in 1988. The single reached number one in September, making Rucker the first solo, African-American artist to chart a number one country hit since Pride's "Night Games" in 1983.
Learn to Live was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on February 6, 2009, and received a platinum certification on August 7, 2009. The album's second single, "It Won't Be Like This for Long", spent three weeks at the top of the country charts in mid-2009. Its follow-up, "Alright", became Rucker's third straight number one hit, making him the first country music singer to have his first three singles reach number one since Wynonna achieved that feat in 1992. The album's fourth single, "History in the Making" was released in September and peaked at number three on the country charts. The singles from the album also crossed over to the Billboard Hot 100, respectively peaking at numbers 35, 36, 30 and 61.
Rucker's entry into the country world was met with some intrigue, largely because of his history as a rock musician and because he is African-American. Billboardmagazine said that "there's a sense of purpose that makes Rucker feel like a member of the country family, rather than calculating interloper." Rucker made visits to various country stations around the US, explaining that he was aware that he was the "new kid on the block." Mike Culotta, the program director of theTampa, Florida radio station WQYK-FM expected that Rucker would be "somebody who would have entitlement," but instead said that "Darius engaged everybody." When Rucker found that "Don't Think I Don't Think About It" went to number one, he cried. On November 11, 2009, Rucker won the Country Music Association New Artist of the Year award (formerly known as the Horizon Award), making him the first African American to do so since the award was introduced in 1981. Only one other African American has won at the CMAs: Charley Pride, who won entertainer of the year in 1971 and male vocalist in 1971 and 1972.
Rucker released his second country album, titled Charleston, SC 1966, on October 12, 2010. The title is inspired by Radney Foster's solo debut album, Del Rio, TX 1959. Its first single was "Come Back Song," which Rucker wrote with Chris Stapleton and Casey Beathard. It was his fourth number one on the country charts as well as a number 37 hit on the Hot 100. The album's second single is "This", which was released to radio in November 2010 and also reached number one in the country charts. Rucker wrote this song with Rogers and Kara DioGuardi. "I Got Nothin'" is the album's third single, peaking at number 18. Also included on the album is a duet with Brad Paisley titled "I Don't Care". Charleston, SC 1966 received a gold certification.
On December 14, 2011, CBSnews.com reported that Rucker is currently working on a third country album with recording set to begin January 2012 followed by the release of the album early in the year. The article also states he will be touring with the country music trio Lady Antebellum in 2012. The album's lead-off single, "True Believers", made its chart debut in September. On October 12, 2012, Rucker told Broadway's Electric Barnyard that his album would also be titled True Believers, and would be out in 2013.
On October 2, 2012, Rucker was invited to join the Grand Ole Opry. Halfway through his set at the Opry that night Rucker answered questions from the audience which included a question from Brad Paisley. Paisley stood up, took the mic and asked Rucker "I have two questions. "One, are you still the worst poker player in the world? And, two. Would you like to become the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry". Rucker accepted, and it became official on October 16.
The East Tennessee native has an impressive track record with hitting on sentiments that strike a chord with the country listener: he's had six number one hits from his first three albums, from "Watching You" and "These Are My People" to his most recent smashes, "Take A Back Road," and "Farmer's Daughter," (which quickly skyrocketed to platinum,) and he's sold over four million singles in the past five years alone.
Rodney Atkins knows the value of taking the long way home, of veering off the beaten path onto that road less traveled once in a while. You can hear it in his music, in the lyrics of his smash single, Take A Back Road, a song that celebrates that feeling of getting away from the noise of everyday life, really living in the moment, and getting right with your soul. And you can see it in the way he lives his life: putting family first, listening to that inner voice and remaining true to himself, and striving to evolve and find unique ways of expressing himself through the music he puts out into the world. It's a philosophy he tries to employ throughout his life, and it has led him to some amazing places.
"What does it mean to follow your own path? I try to think about that a lot when I'm making an album," explains Rodney, describing the journey he took in making his fourth album, Take A Back Road. "To me, it's going somewhere you've never been, because when you do that, you wind up seeing things that no one has seen before. Which means you can paint the picture differently."
The hardworking artist gathered up a whole new set of colors when he set about creating his latest masterpiece/fourth CD, Take A Back Road, and he cranked the whole recording process up a notch in intensity -- which is saying something for a guy who is pretty darned intense to begin with. But he wanted this project, his first in nearly three years, to convey and express some emotions and feelings in an authentic yet different way. Simply put -- Rodney had a lot to say musically, and he wanted to say it in exactly the right way.
Though his new crop of songs has some edge, and the vocal energy may be amped up a notch, Rodney is still the same, hard-working, patriotic, rock-solid country boy that fans have grown to know and love since his debut with 2003's Honesty. He still relishes the time spent with wife Tammy Jo and his son Elijah, and still serves as the spokesperson for brands like Massey Ferguson and the National Council for Adoption, a cause dear to his heart as a child of adoption himself. Rodney volunteers for the council on a large scale, but also makes plenty of time to return to the Holston Methodist Home for Children in Greenville, TN, where he was adopted as a small baby as well, for visits. After all, the road back to the tiny hometown where he got his start may be a long one, and a long way from the glitzy one he travels now as a country star, but for Rodney, nothing could ever beat the power of taking that back road and returning home to your roots.