Rucker talks path to success, change in country music industry for minority artists

As we explore the growing movement to diversify the country music industry, Marius Payton sat down with Darius Rucker to discuss his path to success.
Published: Jun. 10, 2022 at 8:44 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - When you talk about African Americans in country music, Charley Pride paved the way, and with the likes of Breland, Mickey Guyton and Jimmie Allen, there is more diversity in the industry.

But the bridge between the new and the old is Darius Rucker.

And like the path Pride took, the road for Rucker was as bumpy as a slow-moving truck on a country record.

“What was it like for you getting your start in country music?” News4′s Marius Payton asked Rucker on Thursday.

“It was a lot of work. Went to a lot of radio stations, shook a lot of hands,” Rucker said. “It was a lot of work, as a lot of people that were looking at the history and saying it wasn’t going to work. But you know, we had a good song, and we went out and do what we had to do.”

Some radio people knew Rucker’s music was hot but didn’t know if fans would accept it.

“A couple guys said to me that they really, really loved the song, but they just didn’t think their fan base would ever accept a Black country singer,” Rucker said.

Rucker persisted in the country music industry and became a star.

“Yeah, persistence, and they were great. They were like we’re gonna play the song and see what happens,” Rucker said. “It was ‘Don’t Think’ and it went to Number 1. But, uh, it was, I mean when it came out there was no one that looked like me on the radio. There hadn’t been anybody who looked like me on the radio in 25 years or something. I think a lot of people were naysayers because for so long we had been kept out.”

If country music is indeed three chords and the truth, Rucker’s truth has been persistence.

From his first single in 2008, to platinum albums, CMA and CMT awards to even a Grammy, Rucker’s face has been at the forefront of the genre.

And it’s the path that he’s paved that’s made the road a little easier for some of the up-and-coming artists.

Allen, Guyton, Breland and everyone else say Pride and Rucker gave them the opportunity to do what they want to do.

“I mean it makes me feel great. I call it the Black renaissance,” Rucker said. “I mean you can’t really call it a resurgence because Charlies was the only one that was every really here and to see it now and to see you know, somebody asked me when I first came here and had my first hit if I thought I was changing something and I said if I can just get an A&R guy to listen to a CD, I’ve done something, and now we look around and every label out there is looking for an African American artists because it’s changing. They realize that their audience will not just accept them but make super stars out of them.”

Rucker said the future is bright for African American country music performers.

“It’s awesome. It’s already started,” Rucker said. “Kane Brown is going to be playing stadiums. Jimmie, you got Brittney Spencer, all of these great artists that are coming up and getting deals and getting a shot. You know just with the climate of the music is going to get better and better, and I think it’s great.”

Copyright 2022 WSMV. All rights reserved.