NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) – When you talk about African Americans in country music, Charley Pride led the way, and with Breland, Mickey Guyton and Jimmie Allen, there’s more diversity in the industry.
But the bridge between the new and the old is Darius Rucker.
And like the path taken by Pride, Rucker’s road was as bumpy as a slow truck on a national record.
“How did you experience your beginnings in country music? News4’s Marius Payton asked Rucker on Thursday.
“It was a lot of work. I went to a lot of radio stations, I shook a lot of hands,” Rucker said. “It was a lot of work, because a lot of people were watching the story and saying that it wasn’t going to work. But you know, we had a good song, and we went out and did what we had to do.
Some people on the radio knew Rucker’s music was hot but weren’t sure if fans would accept it.
“A couple guys told me they really, really liked the song, but they just didn’t think their fan base would ever accept a black country singer,” Rucker said.
Rucker persisted in the country music industry and became a star.
“Yeah, perseverance, and they were great. They were like we were going to play the song and see what would happen,” Rucker said. “It was ‘Don’t Think’ and it went to number 1. But, uh, it was, I mean when it came out, there was nobody on the radio that looked like me. Nobody hadn’t sounded like me on the radio for 25 years or something. I think a lot of people were naysayers because for so long we’d been sidelined.
If country music is indeed three chords and the truth, Rucker’s truth has been perseverance.
From her 2008 debut single, to platinum albums, CMA and CMT awards, and even a Grammy, Rucker’s face has been at the forefront of the genre.
And it was the path he blazed that made the road a little easier for some of the up-and-coming artists.
Allen, Guyton, Breland and everyone else say Pride and Rucker gave them the opportunity to do what they want to do.
“I mean it makes me feel good. I call it the black renaissance,” Rucker said. “I mean, you can’t really call it a resurgence because Charlies was the only one who was really here and to see him now and to see, you know, someone asked me when I got here for the first time and got my first hit if I thought I was changing something and said if I could just get an A&R guy to listen to a CD I did something thing, and now we’re looking around and every label is looking for an African American artist because it’s changing, they realize that their audience will not just accept them, but will make them super stars.
Rucker said the future is bright for African-American country music artists.
” It’s awesome. It’s already started,” Rucker said. “Kane Brown is going to play in stadiums. Jimmie, you have Brittney Spencer, all these great artists coming in and getting offers and getting shot. You know, just with the climate of the music, it’s going to get better and better, and I think that’s great.
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