Five years ago, Darius Rucker took a break from leading the multi-million-selling rock band Hootie & The Blowfish to focus on a solo career in Country music.
“True Believers” recently became Darius Rucker’s third consecutive Number One Country album. He says its title track is the most personal song on the collection.
Rucker collaborated with his producer Frank Rogers and other songwriters on more than 60 songs before choosing the album’s final 12.
“The most important thing this time was the songs," he said. "This is the most important record of my career. This record is going to make me a country superstar or it’s going to make me just another country singer. I mean, it’s really that simple, so we knew we had to go do something special. We had to have some songs that were going to connect with people and people are going to want to hear over and over and over again and want to go buy. So we took our time and we worked on it. I got the best compliment ever. I played three songs for friends of mine who are DJs down at country radio in Charleston. The first question he asked me is who is my new producer? And I thought, ‘That’s a great question.’ I said, ‘The same guy.’ He said, ‘It doesn’t sound like it.’ That’s what we were going for.”
The second single from “True Believers” was “Wagon Wheel,” a cover of a bluegrass song originally recorded by Old Crow Medicine Show. Rucker’s version spent two weeks at the top of the Country Airplay chart and its video is nearing 10 million views on YouTube. Darius Rucker follows Ray Charles and Charley Pride as only the third African American artist to top the Country chart.
In 2008, Rucker released his debut solo album “Learn To Live,” which brought him the Country Music Association’s Best New Artist Award. Last year, he was inducted into the iconic Grand Ole Opry. Although Nashville and Country radio have welcomed his sound, the 47-year-old singer feels he still has much more to prove.
“I think the first two records, especially the first record, I wanted people to know how much I love the music. And then the second record, [producer] Frank [Rogers] and I even said to each other, you know, ‘let’s just pick up where we left off of the first record.’ It wasn’t really trying to do anything new," Rucker said. "We had some more to say with that record - let’s pick up where we left off and write songs like that. Well this record, it was totally different. …I didn’t feel like I had rest on anything that I had done before. I couldn’t rest on the last two records even though they had been successes. I had to really go out and prove to everybody that we could make a great record.”
Darius Rucker is currently performing his first solo headlining tour to support “True Believers.” In August, he’ll reunite with Hootie & The Blowfish in Charleston, South Carolina to perform their annual hometown concert. He also expects to play some shows with the band next year to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its debut album “Cracked Rear View.” That album sold more than 10 million copies in the United States, placing it among the Top 20 all-time biggest sellers.
Guests on “True Believers” include Lady Antebellum, up-and-coming Country singer-songwriter Mallory Hope and Sheryl Crow, who joins Darius Rucker on “Love Without You.”