Darius Rucker stands out as one of the only mainstream African-American country stars. During his time in country music, Rucker says he’s heard all forms of racist comments and has even experienced some country radio stations refusing to play his songs.
Rucker, 54, holds such an essential role in the country music industry, he is co-hosting the 54th Annual CMA Awards with country music icon Reba McEntire.
His cover of Old Crow Medicine Show’s “Wagon Wheel” boost Rucker into superstardom. However, he feels that he is not being accepted by some in the public and others in the music biz.
Being a Black Man in a Dominantly White Genre
Speaking with the Color Me Country radio show on Wide Open Country, Rucker shares an encounter that caught him off guard.
“I wasn’t really thinking about the black country singer thing,” says Rucker about asking radio stations to play his country music tracks.
As Rucker entered the country music industry, he was simply viewed by some as the former front-man of the mainstream pop-rock band, Hootie & the Blowfish.
“The first time I walked into [a country radio station] — nobody said they wouldn’t play it. What was said was, “I don’t think my audience will accept a black country singer,'” Rucker recalls during the interview. “Just like that. ‘I love the song. I think it’s country. Love it. I’m going to play it tomorrow, but I don’t think my audience will accept a black country singer.”
“I wanted people to play my music for my music. If you like the song, please play it,” says Rucker during the interview. “If not, don’t. Don’t play it because I’m black, and please don’t not play it because I’m black. I didn’t know music was color, but I found out today.”
‘Wow. Really? I thought music was notes and words and chords,” adds Rucker.
Rucker Co-Hosting the 2020 CMA Awards
This isn’t the first time an African-American musician is hosting the awards ceremony. Forty-five years prior to Rucker hosting this year’s CMA Awards, country music legend Charley Pride took the stage with Glen Campbell in 1975 to direct the awards ceremony.
Rucker will be presenting Pride with a Lifetime Achievement Award to his hero at the CMA’s.
Statement Regarding Equal Rights
During his country music career, Rucker hasn’t spoken on his own experiences as a country artist, but with the current events taking place, including the Black Lives Matter movement, Rucker is finally speaking up.
“I’m not a real political guy,” says the African-American country music star. “But I just felt like it was time to say something, because I was feeling different.”
The CMA Awards take place Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.