It was two years ago this week that Capitol Records released Darius Rucker’s first country hit, “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It.” As the lead singer for a multi-million-selling pop act, Darius was a bit surprised that even got to sign a country deal. He’s been even more surprised with the results: three gold singles, a platinum album for Learn To Live and the Country Music Association’s New Artist of the Year award.
The question for Darius is no longer about whether or not he can find acceptance in country music. Now the question is whether or not he can repeat, and he’ll start getting that answer sometime this year. His follow-up album is getting close to complete.
“Right now, I am going into the studio and working on some vocal tracks, but we are about to finish up,” he told The Belleville News-Democrat. “I think we are aiming for the first single to be out around the end of June or first part of July, and the album will be out before Christmas. At least that’s the goal.”
Perhaps the most gratifying part of the entire experience for Darius was the recognition that the audience responded to the music above any of the storyline that accompanied it. His pop background could have been a hindrance. And, though Charley Pride broke the racial barrier in country several decades ago, there were still some lingering concerns about whether Darius’ genetics might have a negative impact.
“It could have been more of an issue of me coming from the rock ‘n’ and roll world than being African-American that could have hurt me,” he said. “But visiting radio stations and getting out there to promote my album personally and performing the songs directly really took precedence over either so-called issue. Really neither one had an affect on my career, which each one could have had. Especially being a rock star. I have said many times, though, that Hootie + The Blowfish had a country edge to their sound anyway. So, I think it actually helped in this case.”
For his second country album, Darius has teamed once again with Frank Rogers, the producer who oversaw Learn To Live. No point in messing with success — especially since Frank’s one of Nashville’s current success stories. His credits include Josh Turner’s “Why Don’t We Just Dance,” Trace Adkins’ “You’re Gonna Miss This” and all of Brad Paisley’s albums.
Brad has an extra connection, because he’s Darius’ current touring partner. The H2O World Tour — also featuring Justin Moore, Easton Corbin, Josh Thompson and Steel Magnolia — visits Kansas City on Friday and St. Louis on Saturday.