Darius Rucker Was 'Overwhelmed' Finding out He Was Hosting CMA Awards

Darius Rucker is preparing for a major moment in his career this week, with the singer set to take the stage as co-host of the CMA Awards alongside Reba McEntire on Wednesday. During an appearance on Color Me Country with Rissi Palmer on Apple Music, which will air on Nov. 8, Rucker opened up about learning he would be co-hosting the show, sharing that it was "overwhelming."

"It overwhelmed me because I've really started to study the history of all this stuff and country music. I remember Charley [Pride] getting to do it back in the day and how big of a deal that was and how huge of a thing that was in the business," he said. Rucker first found success with his rock band, Hootie & the Blowfish, before transitioning to country music with his first country solo album in 2008.

"Here I am, 30 years later, or whatever it is, and I'm getting this opportunity," he reflected. "It was overwhelming for a minute because I came into country music so innocently. I just wanted to make a country record. I didn't even think I was going to get a record deal, let alone have the success that I've had."

Rucker will also perform twice during the broadcast — once in a special performance with McEntire and again to perform his new single, "Beers and Sunshine," where he'll be joined by Lady A.

Along with hosting and performing, Rucker will also present Charley Pride, country music's first Black superstar, with the 2020 Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award.

"It's truly surreal because I've listened to Charley Pride since I was a kid," Rucker shared. "When I was a little kid in the early '70s and Charley's making these records, 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."

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The 54-year-old also recalled watching Pride on the variety show Hee Haw. "Hee Haw was so big for me because I love music and one of the three places you could see musical on TV was Hee Haw," Rucker recalled. "It was Hee Haw, American Bandstand and Soul Train. That's where you saw music on TV and here comes this guy that looks like me singing 'Kiss An Angel Good Mornin'' and you're like, 'Oh my goodness.'"

"And now, decades and decades later, to be a part of him getting an award... There's nobody that deserves it more than Charley," he continued. "Nobody. And just to be a part of that, I'm so honored and just I'm honored to call him a friend."