Darius Rucker Reflects on His Jump to Country Music as He Celebrates Huge Milestones

Darius Rucker is set to launch the next era of his career as he prepares to release his next album, Carolyn's Boy. However, he took a moment to look back before he kicked off this next album cycle. Rucker was the guest of honor at The Electric Jane in Nashville on Oct. 26 in celebration of his cover of Old Crow Medicine Show's "Wagon Wheel" reaching Diamond status — making it only the fourth country song to reach that milestone. The event, which was attended by Today's Craig Melvin and music industry figures, was also meant to mark his 10 No. 1 songs (not counting his work with Hootie & the Blowfish).

In the spirit of this momentous occasion, we asked Rucker to reflect on the start of his solo career and the trepidation that came with entering the country genre. In the media roundtable before the bash, Rucker, 56, told PopCulture that his successful solo career was kickstarted by the hustling he did around the release of his debut solo single, 2008's "Don't Think I Don't Think About It."

"I look back on that period as the example of hard work paid off," Rucker said. "I came to Nashville and Duncan signed me at Capitol, and we really didn't know what was going to happen. He promised me a shot, he told me if I gave him a country record, he'd give me a shot. And when we put out 'Don't Think' and went around the radio stations, really the naysayers were the leaders. And I got it; there was really no reason for us to expect success. Even if we had written (Patsy Cline's) 'Crazy,' there's no reason to expect success. But going out to the radio stations and working hard and going around and doing all the things and being the baby band on Dierks (Bentley) and Brad (Paisley)'s tour and stuff like that, that hard work is what paid off. And so now I look back, and I'm glad that I have my work ethic, and I'm glad that I don't mind taking chances. Because if I hadn't had those two things, I wouldn't be sitting there talking to you guys."

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(Photo: Steve Lowry / Essential Broadcast Media)

While Rucker's worked hard to get to this point, he noted elsewhere in the conversation that he's comfortable enough to slow down a bit. While he's just as dedicated to music as ever, he's learned to appreciate his time away from work more in recent years.

"I didn't always give myself time to enjoy it (life)," Rucker said. "It was always work, work, work, work, work. And (if) you're not working, concentrating on family. But now I've learned to say 'no,' which was really big for me, learning to say 'no.' And I love it. I love writing songs, I love all of it, but I'm at a really cool place in my career where I'm not chasing it anymore. It's either going to be there or it's not, now, for me. So I love it. I still love doing it more than anything in the world, but I also love my time off a lot now, too."

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Rucker will release Carolyn's Boy at an undisclosed date in 2023. Rucker has released two singles ahead of the album, "Same Beer Different Problem" and the Chapel Hart collaboration "Ol' Church Hymn."