DETROIT - In three days Darius Rucker will be in metro Detroit for the Ten Man Jam in Royal Oak doing what he loves -- not only singing, but talking about his songs and what motivates his writing.
Whether or not you like country music, Rucker's story is an interesting one. Not many African-Americans make it big in the country music world, but he proved transformations can be done if you are true to yourself.
Rucker said the night he was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry by Vince Gill was a night he will never forget.
"I mean, I wasn't trying to break into country to be the next big thing or anything like that, I just wanted to make music and be a part of the community, and I think everybody sensed that," Rucker said. "I think that was one of the reasons for my success is people just sensed first that it was real."
Since Rucker went country in 2008 he's been racking up hit after hit, most recently winning a Grammy for a song he recorded, "Wagon Wheel."
"It's really one of those things where it just shows how much I'm solidified in the country world, and every year it gets better and better, and that Grammy was just like, you know, I've arrived man, I'm back," Rucker said.
So where does the 47-year-old father get his motivation?
Rucker said for "Wagon Wheel" it was his daughter's high school talent contest.
"They start playing 'Wagon Wheel,'" Rucker said. "I mean, the instant they started playing it I was like, 'Wow, I've never heard it that way.' And I just thought I want to cut that. You know, that's one of those songs I think I could do a really good job on."
For other songs, Rucker says it's simple. He wants to make records people want to listen to.
"I mean, total records, not just singles like a lot of folks do," Rucker said. "I want to put out records that people will like."
Local 4 asked Rucker what would surprise people about him, something people wouldn't know.
"I'm a dork. I'm a guy who reads comic books and stuff like that," Rucker said. "I'm a gamer and everything, so people always look at me. Somebody said to me, 'You're such a cool dude.' I'm like, 'There's nothing cool about me. I'm that guy next door that you probably wouldn't want to hang out with when we were kids.'"
The ones that do want to hang out with the self-professed dork are Rucker's three children and wife, Beth, in their Charleston, SC home.
"When I'm home there's nothing else I want to be than dad," Rucker said. "You know, I want to go to football games, I want to take them to school and pick them up from school. I want to help them with homework, you know, I want to cook and do the dishes and do all the stuff that you're supposed to do, because I think one of the motivations for me is that I didn't have a dad."
When asked what Rucker's best advice for being a dad was, he said, "Just be there. That's the most important part is being there and they just love it when you're there, when you show up at a game and they smile, they look over and smile, or when they see me coming in the school yard to pick them up and they smile, that's awesome."
At home Rucker says he's just dad, no fame, nothing fancy, just dad.
"I never really see what I do as a big deal," Rucker said. "I really don't. I mean, I always say, 'I didn't cure cancer.' All I did was sing a song, and my voice is not something I gave myself. God gave me this."
In turn, Rucker makes sure to share God's gift. His music is not only entertaining. He says at times it can be healing. He is part of Musicians on Call, where he visits sick children in the hospital in the hopes maybe his songs can bring a little happiness.
Rucker is winning hearts in arenas all over, including in Detroit.
"Detroit's always been good for me," Rucker said. "I've been lucky Detroit was one of those places, even when Hootie peaked and started to fall down, Detroit was still a place we could sell out. We could sell out Pine Knob, you know, every year we knew we could play Pine Knob and we did."
So, what's next for the Grammy award-winning singer???
"Another record album," Rucker said. "I'm already writing it. (I'm) going to go in the studio in April and May to get started recording. Just want to keep playing, touring and having a good time."
Rucker will be playing at the Ten Man Jam at the Royal Oak Music Theatre Wednesday. As far as a Hootie and the Blowfish reunion tour -- Rucker says they will have one, maybe even do another record, but probably not for a couple of years.
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