Darius Rucker (born May 13, 1966 in Charleston, South Carolina) is the lead singer and rhythm guitarist of the American rock band Hootie & the Blowfish, of which he has been a member since the band's inception in 1989.
Along with his work in Hootie & the Blowfish, Rucker recorded one studio album, entitled Back to Then, on Hidden Beach Recordings in 2002. In 2008, he signed to Capitol Nashville and charted his first solo single, "Don't Think I Don't Think About It", the first single from his first country album Learn to Live. Rucker has been a member of Hootie & the Blowfish since their original formation in 1989. He met fellow band members, Mark Bryan, Jim "Soni" Sonefeld, and Dean Felber, while attending the University of South Carolina.
In 2001, he made his solo R&B debut album The Return of Mongo Slade for Atlantic Records. Because of contractual changes, it was never released by the label. Hidden Beach Recordings, an independent label, acquired the masters from Atlantic, releasing the album as Back to Then in July 2002. Rucker also portrayed a singing cowboy in a television commercial for the fast food chain Burger King, promoting their TenderCrisp Bacon Cheddar Ranch sandwich in 2005; in the commercial, he sang a parody of "Big Rock Candy Mountain".
In early 2008, Rucker signed to Capitol Records Nashville as the beginning of a career in country music. His first country single, "Don't Think I Don't Think About It" (which he co-wrote with Clay Mills) debuted at #51 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs charts for the week of May 3, 2008, and it served as the lead-off single to an upcoming album for Capitol, Learn to Live.
For this album, Rucker worked with Frank Rogers, a record producer who has also produced for Brad Paisley and Trace Adkins. Rucker also made his Grand Ole Opry debut in July 2008. The single reached number one in September, making Rucker the first solo, African-American artist to chart a number one country hit since Pride's "Night Games" in 1983.
Rucker sings to a crowd during an Operation Pacific Greetings tour concert. Learn to Live was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on February 6, 2009 and received a platinum certification on August 7, 2009. The album's second single, "It Won't Be Like This for Long", spent three weeks at the top of the country chart in mid-2009. Its follow-up, "Alright", became Rucker's third straight number one hit, making him the first singer to have his first three country singles reach number one since Wynonna in 1992. The album's fourth single, "History in the Making" was released in September and peaked at number three. The singles also crossed over to the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at 35, 36, 30, and 61.
Rucker's entry into the country world was met with some intrigue, largely because of his history as a rock musician and because he is African-American. Billboard magazine said that "there's a sense of purpose that makes Rucker feel like a member of the country family, rather than calculating interloper." Rucker made visits to various country stations around the US, explaining that he was aware that he was the "new kid on the block." Mike Culotta, the program director of the Tampa, Florida radio station WQYK-FM expected that Rucker would be "somebody who would have entitlement," but instead said that "Darius engaged everybody." When Rucker found that "Don't Think I Don't Think About It" went to number one, he cried. On November 11, 2009, Rucker won the Country Music Association New Artist of the Year award (formerly known as the Horizon Award), making him the first African American to do so since the award was introduced in 1981. Only one other African American has won at the CMAs: Charley Pride, who won entertainer of the year in 1971 and male vocalist in 1971 and 1972.
Rucker released his second country album, titled Charleston, SC 1966, on October 12, 2010. The title is inspired by Radney Foster's solo debut album, Del Rio, TX 1959. Its first single was "Come Back Song," which Rucker wrote with Chris Stapleton and Casey Beathard. It was his fourth country number one as well as a number 37 hit on the Hot 100. The album's second single was "This", which was released to radio in November 2010 and also reached number one in the country chart. Rucker wrote it with Rogers and Kara DioGuardi. "I Got Nothin'" was the album's third single, peaking at number 18. Also included on the album is a duet with Brad Paisley titled "I Don't Care". Charleston, SC 1966 received a gold certification.
On December 14, 2011, CBSnews.com reported that Rucker was working on a third country album with recording set to begin January 2012 followed by the release of the album early in the year. The album's lead-off single, "True Believers", made its chart debut in September. On October 12, 2012, Rucker told Broadway's Electric Barnyard that his album would also be titled True Believers. "True Believers" peaked at number 18. Its second single is a cover of Bob Dylan's "Wagon Wheel" (previously made famous by Old Crow Medicine Show), featuring backing vocals from Lady Antebellum. "Wagon Wheel" reached number one on the Country Airplay chart in May 2013. True Believers was released on May 21, 2013. The album's third single, "Radio", was released to country radio on July 22, 2013. The album's fourth single, "Miss You", was released to country radio on February 3, 2014.
On October 2, 2012, Darius Rucker was invited to join the Grand Ole Opry. Halfway through his set at the Opry that night he answered questions from the audience which included a question from Brad Paisley. Paisley said: "I have two questions. One, are you still the worst poker player in the world? And two, would you like to become the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry?" Rucker accepted, and it became official on October 16.
Rucker was a featured performer at the C2C: Country to Country festival in London on March 17, 2013. On News Years Day, January 1, 2013 he sang the National Anthem at the Outback Bowl in Tampa Florida. On May 11, 2013, Rucker was the speaker at the commencement ceremony for the University of South Carolina in Columbia. Before his speech, he received an honorary Doctorate of Music degree. Rucker also sang the national anthem at the NBA finals on June 16, 2013.
On December 6, 2013, it was announced that Rucker's version of Wagon Wheel had earned him a nomination for Best Country Solo Performance for the 56th Annual Grammy Awards. At the awards ceremony on January 26, 2014, Rucker won, becoming only the third African American recording act (the first being Charley Pride, the second being The Pointer Sisters) to win a vocal performance Grammy Award in a country music category.
On August 25, 2014, Rucker released a brand new single titled "Homegrown Honey" to country radio and to digital retailers. It serves as the lead single to his fourth country studio album, Southern Style, to be released on March 31, 2015. On September 15, 2014, it was announced that Rucker had completed his first Christmas album and that it would be released on October 27, 2014. Included is a collaboration with Sheryl Crow on "Baby, It's Cold Outside".