It's been more than two decades since an African-American singer has topped the Country charts.  As VOA's Mary Morningstar tells us, Hootie And The Blowfish lead singer Darius Rucker recently ended that dry spell with the release of his solo Country album, Learn To Live.

Darius Rucker's three-year-old son inspired him to write the title track of his solo debut Country album Learn To Live. 

 "My children have had a huge effect on me," he says. "Everything in my life is about them.  It's even crossed over into my songs."

Darius came to international attention in 1995 as the lead singer of Hootie And The Blowfish.  The pop-rock group sold 16 million copies of its first album, Cracked Rear View, which produced the Top 10 pop hits "Hold My Hand," "Only Wanna Be With You" and "Let Her Cry."  Although Darius is currently focusing on his solo career in Country music, he promises that there will be another Hootie And The Blowfish album sometime in the future.
Guests on Learn To Live include Alison Krauss, Vince Gill and Brad Paisley, whose distinctive guitar playing is featured on the track "All I Want."

Darius fell in love with Country music while growing up in South Carolina.  He names David Allan Coe, Hank Williams, Jr., Dwight Yoakam and Lyle Lovett among his early Country favorites.  Radney Foster, half of the 1980s duo Foster and Lloyd, was especially influential.

"When I first heard Radney Foster sing 'Crazy Over You,' I remember (thinking) 'I want to do that," Darius says.

Rucker teamed in the studio with Frank Rogers, who's best known for producing albums by Country traditionalists Trace Adkins, Josh Turner and Brad Paisley.  Darius describes Rogers as "a genius" who understands the kind of Country music he wants to make.  Speaking of Brad Paisley, beginning in January, Darius will open shows on his "Paisley Party Tour."

Learn To Live made a Number One debut on the Country Albums chart.  And, Darius recently became the first black artist since 1985 to top the Country Singles list.