If it wasn’t for Darius Rucker, I wouldn’t be covering country music. I realize that’s a bold statement to make, but it’s true. In order for you to understand, let me take you back to the summer of 2009 when my love for country music began.
My childhood friends Wendy and Deana had been talking about visiting Nashville for quite some time. Every June the city is transformed into country music fan central as thousands of country music diehards and artists descend on the city for CMA Fest, formerly known as Fan Fair.
For four days, country music fans are treated to live performances, surprise appearances and exclusive meet-and-greets with their favorite country artists. The three of us booked our festival package and flights from New Jersey to Tennessee. I was later approved to cover the nightly press conference and days events for Marie Claire. An outsider to country music at the time, I would also be attending a press conference for the first time.
My first night in the press conference was intimidating to say the least. Not an exceptionally outgoing person, I soon learned that in order to get your question in you usually had to yell out to the artist onstage. The first artist in the room was Darius Rucker. The Hootie & the Blowfish frontman recently released his debut country album and would be performing on the main stage later that night.
Being my first time in the press room, I kept raising my hand in hopes to get my question answered. When the last question was asked and the publicist started to usher Darius off the stage he pointed in my direction. “You’ve been so patient this whole time,” he said. “What’s your question?” After looking around and realizing he was talking to me, I was shocked and thankful to be given a second of his time. So, I asked him how his Hootie fans had reacted to his leap into country music and he told me they’ve embraced and supported his career in the genre. Still stunned he pointed me out in the crowd, I instantly knew country would become my new favorite genre.
I’ve since interviewed Darius countless times and he is always so kind during each chat. Earlier this week I even covered his “13th Annual Darius and Friends” concert benefiting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium. He performs again tonight during CMA Fest at Nashville’s Nissan Stadium.