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Sunday, June 22, 2014

Crying for the Dolphins

Darius Rucker's in the stadium somewhere
While some celebrities change sports interests to whoever's convenient at the moment, others wear their teams on their sleeves, leaving no doubt about who they support. We learned in one of Hootie and the Blowfish's first singles that the Dolphins made Darius Rucker cry, and his allegiance to his alma mater, the University of South Carolina, can never be questioned.

I'll be honest, I'm honoring Darius Rucker as part of Black Music Month in equal parts accuracy and defiance. While the US doesn't go as far as Germany's "Black Charts" in naming music genres, there is a fairly clear belief for some that "black music" only comprises a handful of genres - rap, R&B, reggae and gospel these days, and from generations past, soul, jazz, funk, and for those who know their history, rock and roll. But excluding a black man making music, regardless of genre, seems to me to go against the spirit of the celebration.

Rucker's career has had a few seasons before the current one. We first came to know of him as the frontman for mid-90s rock group Hootie and the Blowfish. The appeal of his sound was undeniable then. After the bright lights faded on the band, Darius Rucker went solo - first as an R&B singer. While I recall the image at the time (I believe there was a soul patch involved) and seem to recall having sought out a song or two, I couldn't give you a highlight from that phase of his career. In 2008, when he returned to the airwaves as a country singer, anyone who remembered the voice from the Hootie and the Blowfish days realized how much sense that made. Since then, he has collected his share of awards and recognitions and met or exceeded the career he had back in the '90s.

The SportsCenter-themed video for I Only Wanna Be With You only introduced us to the role that sports plays for Rucker. He has since gone on to represent this passion in numerous ways, including guest picking (his Gamecocks, of course) on College GameDay and singing the National Anthem at various sporting events. He's also close with professional golfer Tiger Woods.

If you've not had the pleasure of a Darius Rucker live show, treat yourself. I was fortunate enough to catch him on tour a few years ago with Rascal Flatts; in addition to his new material, he dipped back to the Hootie and the Blowfish days, gave us a few covers, and brought the house down unapologetically wailing on Prince's Purple Rain in front of a country music crowd. 
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