Whether you like it or not, country music has had a stigma for some time. Darius Rucker is just hoping he is part of the change. It has been said enough to become a stereotype, country music is racist, or is just for certain people. The Alright artist has something to say about that though.
As part of the Hallowed Sound project from USA TODAY, Rucker penned a story about race and country music. During the piece, he spoke about the early influences he had as a child. And, the profound effect Charley Pride had on his young self.
“When I got to 6 or 7, I would put records on. I remember finding a Charley Pride record. I asked my mom, ‘Is this that country guy that we saw on Hee Haw?’ It was a great thing for me. I was just a little kid and I was getting flak from my family for the music I listened to. Here was somebody that looked like me singing country music – that wasn’t supposed to be.”
Now, with the 55-year-old in a position to inspire others, he believes the stigma is changing. Also, he wants to make it clear that African Americans have made a large impact on the genre of country music at large.
“We took elements of all those different musical genres and made it country. The banjo originated in Africa. It came over with slaves, and now it’s one of the biggest instruments in country music,” Rucker explained. Hank Williams Sr. listened to all of those blues players. I think African Americans have had a profound effect on country music.”
Darius Rucker dealt with the hard facts of the racial stigma in country music himself when he first came to Music City.
Darius Rucker Wants to Be Part of the Change
When he first came to Nashville, it wasn’t an easy thing for the singer-songwriter to make the transition to country music. Despite success as a member of Hootie and the Blowfish, radio stations weren’t buying in on the hype at first. So, they were blunt, it was because of his skin color.
“When I came to Nashville 14 years ago, I was going into the radio stations and being told that they didn’t think it was going o work because I was African American. That was tough. But I was glad to get the truther, and it was what it was. When I had three number ones in a row on my first record, I think that made people go, ‘Well, maybe we were wrong.'”
As for that stigma around race, Darius Rucker hopes that he is going to be remembered as a reason the genre changed for the better.
“Country music has this stigma of rebel flags and racism, and that’s changing. I think it’s changing drastically. And I’m just glad. I hope I’m remembered as one of the people that tried to fight that, and one of the reasons that changed.”