Darius Rucker (Contributed)
Country music artist and former frontman for Hootie & the Blowfish, Darius Rucker, will give a special concert Sunday at 7:30 at Niswonger Performing Arts Center in Greeneville. The concert is part of fundraising activities for the Niswonger Children’s Hospital.
Rucker first attained multi-platinum status as the lead singer and rhythm guitarist of Hootie & the Blowfish, then went on to top the country music charts.
Since re-introducing himself to the world as a country artist, Rucker has had a truly remarkable few years. In 2008, he released “Learn to Live”; the album’s first single, “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It,” made him the first African American with a Number One country song since Charley Pride in 1983. It was followed by two more singles that topped the chart — “It Won’t Be Like This For Long” and “Alright” — and earned him the New Artist award from the Country Music Association.
His 2010 follow-up, “Charleston, SC 1966,” included two more Number Ones, “Come Back Song” and “This.” Recently, Rucker was nominated for the CMA’s Musical Event of the Year award for his performance of “Stuck on You” with Lionel Richie, and in October, he achieved a childhood dream when he was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry.
Asked if he can believe the unprecedented success of his second career, Rucker just laughs. “From where I was five years ago to the CMA’s and the Grand Ole Opry, why would I believe that?” he says. “I didn’t even know if country radio was going to play my song, but you can’t think about things like that.”
His latest release is “True Believers,” for which he wrote 10 of the 12 tracks, ranging from the feel-good sing-along “Radio” to the sophisticated narrative of “Shine.” He expresses special pride in the raw and realistic sentiments of songs like “Miss You” and “I Will Love You Still,” a duet with young powerhouse vocalist Mallary Hope.
The two songs Rucker didn’t have a hand in writing are both major events of their own. “Love Without You” features Sheryl Crow, with whom Rucker had wanted to record ever since they sang together at a VH1 function almost 20 years ago.
For his version of the popular Old Crow Medicine Show song “Wagon Wheel,” initially based on a sketch by Bob Dylan, Rucker, never expecting them to say yes, invited his tour partners and Capitol Records label mates Lady Antebellum into the studio. With the latter serving as his current single, Rucker says, “they took the whole song three steps up.”
With the twelve songs on “True Believers,” Darius Rucker takes his accomplishments to impressive new heights. Staying true to the real-life stories that define country music, he has crafted an album that is consistent and complex, full of joy, pain, and passion. Now Rucker is looking forward to the next chapter — bringing these new songs to the stage.
“When I cut a record, I really think about what it will be like to play live,” he says. “We’re already doing some of these — ‘Radio,’ ‘Shine,’ ‘Wagon Wheel’ — and I can’t wait to start playing a song like ‘Heartbreak Road.’ These songs were all fun to play in the studio, even just as a jam session, and that’s what it’s all about. If I don’t have fun, I know that the audience won’t. So when I make a record, I look for songs that I’ll want to play for the rest of my life.”
Tickets are $150 for orchestral level seating and $75 for balcony level. A special section, including a VIP pre-show reception, is available for $250.
For more information, call 638-1328 or visit www.greenevillenpac.com. The center is located at 212 Tusculum Blvd., Greeneville.