Hootie & the Blowfish lead singer Darius Rucker began a highly successful turn as a country star in 2008. His laid-back attitude goes hand in hand with his love of golf in making Florida one of his favorite spots, second only to his hometown of Charleston, South Carolina. Rucker’s True Believers tour kicks off at Germain Arena in Estero on May 9, and his new album of the same name is set to drop May 21. We caught up with the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry just before he hit the road.
NI: How was it transitioning from rock and pop to country music?
I definitely wouldn’t say it was easy. There were a lot of people saying it was not going to work, but once people realized the sincerity of what I was doing and liked the music, they started opening doors.
You’ve had an amazing career. You had so much success with Hootie and the Blowfish. Now you are a hugely successful independent country artist. How do you think it was different being with a band versus being on your own?
The biggest difference is having to make all of the decisions on your own. With Hootie, we are absolutely a band; we are four guys. If you get outvoted 3 to 1, no matter how much you wanted it, you lose. With the country solo thing, it’s all up to me. And country music is a different animal than rock and pop. The whole genre is just so different and so more family oriented; People are friendlier. With the band it’s a totally different thing. I really feel like I’m not even doing the same thing sometimes.
You still are in contact with your Hootie and the Blowfish band and working with them, right?
Oh yeah, we play four shows a year every year. I am sure there will be another Hootie Tour and record sometime soon.
We hear you are rather philanthropic.
I do whatever I can, but try to work with children’s charities especially. For me, it’s just the way it is: I was raised to help people. I’m on the board of the Children’s Hospital at the Medical University of South Carolina. I love the work we do with St. Jude’s. I did something with the ACM Lifting Lives Music Camp (for children with disabilities) at the Academy of Country Music, which is still one of the greatest moments I’ve ever had on stage.
What was it like, winning a Grammy Award for Best New Artist with Hootie & The Blowfish?
That was cool, but the Grammy for “Let Her Cry” was the one that really blew me away. We figured they would probably have to give us best new artist but we didn’t think we were going to win the second one. Also, winning Country Music Award for Best New Artist–that was huge.
And then being inducted into the Grand Ole Opry…
That was more than I could ever explain to you. That was an amazing thing for me, and such an honor to be apart of. Now I am a family member of the Grand Ole Opry. When I walk in, the first thing I do is touch that plaque. There I am, right under Keith Urban. It’s pretty awesome!
I know you collaborated with the members of Lady Antebellum for your new single Wagon Wheel, how was working with them?
They are just great people. Charles is one of my best buddies. Asking him to help on that track was like asking a friend to come over and give you some sugar. It was like, “Hey, will you guys be on my record?” and they were like, “Yeah, tell us when you want us to be there and we will be there.” They show up a couple days later and sing their parts and it sounds amazing. And that wouldn’t happen in any other genre of music. It wouldn’t happen that easy in any other genre, and that is just country music right there.