KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) – It’s been more than 15 years since Hootie & The Blowfish released Cracked Rear View, the band’s debut album that rocketed them to stardom. On Thursday the now broken up band’s lead singer was in East Tennessee, where he found himself in the midst of a career revival in country music.
Darius Rucker played a show Thursday night at Cotton Eyed Joes in West Knoxville. Before the show he stopped by the Sequoyah Hill’s studios of WVLT Volunteer TV News radio partner WIVK-FM.
“Platinum recording artist, the pride and joy of South Carolina,” announced WIVK personality Gunner, “Darius Rucker, welcome to East Tennessee man!".
Rucker’s appearance came eight days after he became the first African American to take home the CMA for best new artist of the year, and only the second since Charlie Pride to win a CMA award.
In spite of the accolades and change of tune from pop to country, Rucker still remains down to earth.
"Somebody was telling me when my record came out that they were mad because I didn’t come up with these ground breaking songs,” Rucker said. “I didn’t know I was supposed to change country music. I’m just trying to get it played on the radio like everybody else."
Rucker’s first solo country album was released in 2008 and immediately shot to number one on the Billboard Top County Albums chart. It also netted him three number one hits and was recently certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for shipping more than 1 million copies.
The former pop singer’s success in Nashville has drawn a number of critics who argue that he switched genres only to cash in on country’s current popularity.
"If it was an avenue to make money, I don't think I’d have made the first record,” Rucker told WIVK listeners, “because they didn’t give me any money."
Rucker also admitted that before Hootie & The Blowfish broke up, he asked his fellow bandmates to transition to country. They decided to split instead and he signed with Capitol Records Nashville to begin the latest chapter of his musical career.
"There was no hype, no front page ad in Billboard Magazine,” he said. “It was me, my guitar player and a car driving around in the country to 100 radio stations."
Now from Hootie, to Boot Scootin' Boogie, Darius continues to put together the right ingredients for success.