HomeEntertainmentMusicDarius Rucker Explains Why Pop Stars Often Fail Switching to Country Music

Darius Rucker Explains Why Pop Stars Often Fail Switching to Country Music

by Jon D. B.
(Photo by Kevin Winter/ACMA2010/Getty Images for ACMA)

While talking to Reba McEntire on her podcast, Darius Rucker lets his fellow country icon know he never expected success in the genre, and dives deep into his experience with the music.

Darius Rucker and Reba McEntire are making the best of their 2020. The pair of country legends will co-host the CMA Awards – a duo fans are ecstatic to see. In anticipation of the show, the two got together on Reba’s podcast, Living & Learning to discuss just how Rucker managed such a powerful transition from pop-rock – to the wildly different country genre.

In the highly-personal episode, “Reba and Melissa explore the idea of reinventing yourself, how life is a constant evolution and how to approach your own desires for change.” After discussing the subject with advice columnist and author Heather Havrilesky, “the ladies move to singer Darius Rucker about going from lead singer of the rock band Hootie and the Blowfish to becoming an acclaimed country star, and the importance of authenticity in all phases of life.”

The resulting conversation is one no fan of Rucker will want to miss.

Darius Rucker Dives Deep into his Country Career

Further into the episode, which focuses on its title of “Reinventing Yourself,” Reba asks a key question.

“How was that when you decided to come over into country music?” she poses to Darius. “What was your thought process?”

“I always tell people that Randy Foster came out with a record in 1989 called ‘Del Rio Texas’, which just changed my world. I heard him sing and I said ‘I want to sing just like that dude’ – ‘I want to make that someday.'” As a result, for Darius Rucker – he had always been living country. So the switch wasn’t as much of a switch as it was a relief.

“And I would say [this] to the band, and they’d laugh, and I said I’m going to make a country record someday!”

Rucker says at the height of Hootie & The Blowfish’s insane popularity, they were touring “all the time. Then, one day, we all came in for a meeting – and decided we weren’t going to tour anymore.” The revelation was, of course, shocking to Rucker. “But my first thought was – I’m going to go make a country record now,” he laughs.

Country Success Came Through Authenticity for Rucker

Much to his surprise, however, Rucker’s agent immediately got him a record deal with country & industry giant Capitol Records. The former rocker was, to put it lightly, absolutely floored.

“My only thought when I was making that first record was ‘man I hope they let me do another one, I hope this one is good enough so I can do another one.”

Reba genuinely praises Rucker over this, telling him it is why he’s so beloved in the country world – and by fans all over. “You are so humble!” She shines.

Rucker stands by his humility, though, noting that he still finds it amazing that Capitol took such an immediate gamble on a “pop star black guy,” he laughs. “I was blessed.” And now – years later – he is beyond thankful that other African American country fans feel represented within the genre. “They see someone that looks like them,” he adds. “That, to me, has been the biggest blessing of all this.”

“If you’re going to reinvent yourself, make sure it is part of who you are”

As a result of his lifelong love affair with country music, Rucker has never felt more at home. To Reba, and many others, this is what makes his transition from pop to country perhaps the most successful of any artist in history.

“Once it hit – it felt like, this is where I’m supposed to be,” Rucker continues. “There was a lot of doubt… this was 14 years ago. And people were like, ‘why?’ But For me, it was something I was going to do no matter what anyone says.”

Moreover, Reba asks Darius what advice he has for young artists who also want to reinvent themselves and try something new.

“If it’s really who you are – do it,” Rucker says. For him, it is all about this same authenticity. “Me coming to country music – I was just singing another part of who I am.”

“And I think when a lot of other pop stars come over to country, that’s what the downfall is. It’s not authentic. You’re doing it to have hits. You’re not doing it because you love the music, you’re doing it because somebody else did it. Or ’cause you think you can have a hit. You don’t believe it.”

In conclusion, Rucker notes that “If you’re going to reinvent yourself, make sure it is part of who you are. I think, if not, people see right through it. Instantly. And they know – that’s not real.”

To listen to the episode in full and hear plenty more from Darius Rucker, you can catch the episode for free with a Spotify account here.

In the meantime, fans can look forward to these two megastars building up to their CMA hosting duties.

[H/T Living & Learning with Reba McEntire]