Darius Rucker, the South Carolina native who first found fame with pop-rock group Hootie & the Blowfish, is no stranger to encountering racism.

“And you know, getting older and doing the things I was doing, in the world I was doing it in, I would say to myself, ‘That’s just the way it is,’” he explains in a new episode of the Color Me Country with Rissi Palmer podcast.

When he entered country music in 2008, Darius says he thought about another country performer who had broken down race barriers in the genre before him: Charley Pride.

“I remember saying to myself, ‘You can put up with whatever happens here because whatever happens to you is not going to be 1/10th, 1/100th of what Charley Pride went through,’” Rucker recalls.

When Darius co-hosts the 2020 CMA Awards next week, that inspiration will come full circle when Charley accepts the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award.

“I remember having a Charley Pride record in my mom’s collection that I don’t think my mom ever put on, but she bought that record because he was a Black man singing country music,” Darius recalls, going on to remember watching Charley perform on Hee Haw.

“And now, decades and decades later, to be part of him getting an award…There’s nobody that deserves it more than Charley. Nobody,” Darius declares.

Darius also says recently, he’s felt compelled to be more vocal against racism.

“It was Charlottesville, it was a whole bunch of stuff. Just watching the world we knew change,” the singer reflects. “I just felt like it was time for me to say something, because I was feeling different.”

Listen to Darius’ full conversation with host Rissi Palmer on Sunday, November 8 at 7:00 p.m. ET on Apple Music Country.

By Carena Liptak
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