With the unmistakable voice of lead singer Darius Rucker, Hootie & the Blowfish shot to number one on the pop charts with their 1994 debut album, Cracked Rear View. The album garnered the group two Grammys and sold more than 16 million copies in the United States alone—and still remains one of the best-selling albums of all time.
Fifteen years later, Darius has gone country with his solo album Learn to Live. The album has already produced two number one singles, and The New York Times calls it one of the year's most vibrant country albums.
Now, he's taking Oprah's stage to perform "It Won't Be Like This for Long."
What Inspired You to Write "It Won't Be Like This for Long"?
Darius says his wife and children inspired him to pen this song. "When I was writing the record, I got with a couple guys who also had kids," he says. "So we were writing this big drinking song, and we're talking about our kids, and I'm like, 'You know, we should probably write a song about our kids,' and we wrote that one."
Darius says country music is truly soul music. "The best part about being in country music [is] you can write a song that's that beautiful, and just how you feel," he says. "Country music is the only place you can find a singer/songwriter today. It's the soul."
How Does It Feel to Top the Country Charts—and Make History?
Before Darius, only two other African-Americans topped the country music charts—Ray Charles and Charlie Pride. "I can't believe my name is in that same sentence," he says.
Although he's honored, Darius says he didn't write the album to break barriers. "I was just trying to make a record people wanted to hear, and to have done that and for all the stuff to happen just blows me away," he says. "I'm on Oprah for goodness' sake! That blows me away."
What Happened to Hootie & the Blowfish?
They're definitely still together and playing gigs, Darius says. "We'll make a record and do another tour sometime years from now, but I'm a country singer now," Darius says.
Does Everyone Think You're Really Hootie?
Darius says he gets that a lot—but he thinks the perception might be starting to change. "I go to Baltimore to see my oldest daughter, and I go to the hotel, and the hotel clerk looks at me and she said to me, 'Are you Darius Rucker the country singer?'" he says. "My heart just started to flutter, and said, 'Yes, I am.' It was awesome."
Is It Hard to Be On the Road and Be a Dad?
It's not easy, Darius says. "I'm lucky my wife is a strong woman. She's one of the stronger people I've ever met," he says. "It's hard for me to be away, but I know my home life is fine because my wife is there."
When he is at home, Darius says his time with his family can't be interrupted...with one major exception. "We have this calendar—everybody's got a place, your dates are listed, and so we wanted time off because I had been working so much," he says. "On every day of December we put 'Darius off—unless Oprah calls.'"