Darius Rucker: Country Music’s ‘Elder Statesman’
Darius Rucker has been having hits in country music for over a decade now, and he became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 2012, calling it one of the biggest honors of his lifetime.
Darius is now what he calls an “elder statesman” in country music, and it’s a role he cherishes. He told us, “Coming here sixteen years ago as the outsider, it took me a minute before I felt comfortable. And then I felt comfortable after a couple of years, and then the Opry happened, and I felt like I was born again.”
He added, “I’m becoming one of the elder statesmen now. I’ve been here for almost sixteen years doing this, and it just feels right. It feels like a no-brainer now. There’s no trepidation… ” He pauses and says, “Hey, I just used trepidation in a sentence (laughs). I am so proud of myself right now. But you know, there’s no bad part to it. I’m part of the landscape. I’m part of what country music is, and I’m very proud.”
Rucker says that he feels like he is in a place to help others coming into country music after him. He said, “I definitely feel an obligation to be there for people. I have a bunch of friends in Nashville who are up-and-coming artists who call me and ask me questions and ask for advice and everything, and that’s important to me.”
Darius recalled when his friend from Lady A reminded him of his role in the genre. He said, “Charles Kelley called me a few years ago when George Strait retired. He called me up and said, ‘Did you hear what happened? George, quit,’ and I said, ‘Really?’ He said, ‘You know what that means? It means you’re the oldest guy on country radio’ (Darius laughs).”
Rucker concluded, “It’s a great place to be, especially with the African-American artists that are coming up. When I was coming through, there was no one to talk to. I’d talk to Charley (Pride) once in a while, but he wasn’t on the radio anymore, and it had been twenty-five years since he’d been on the radio.”