Excerpted from the magazine for Billboard.com.

During the past four decades, Charlie Daniels has covered a lot of musical territory, from country and rock to blues and gospel. On his new Blue Hat/Audium release, "Redneck Fiddlin' Man," Daniels returns to the country fold.

"It's probably the most country album I've ever cut. I love them all," Daniels says of the songs on this collection, which is due out July 23. "I had such a great time doing them and had fun with the band. Of course, I love the one we did with Travis [Tritt] and the one with Garth [Brooks]. That was a lot of fun."

"I sent word to the guys asking if they'd like to cut a song with me," Daniels explains. "Travis and I wrote 'Southern Boy,' and Garth agreed to do 'Waco' with me. Travis and I are kind of on the same page with that particular music."

Daniels also reprises some songs, such as "My Baby Plays Me Just Like a Fiddle," which he previously recorded during his tenure with Capitol. "That was on the last Capitol album," he says. "I cut it with studio musicians the first time, and I wanted to do it with my band. I wanted to CDB [Charlie Daniels Band] it up."

"Redneck Fiddlin' Man" includes Daniels' version of "The Star-Spangled Banner," as well as first single "The Last Fallen Hero," a song Daniels penned in tribute to the victims of last Sept. 11. He was slated to perform the latter on a PBS Independence Day special, but when the producer said he could not play that song, Daniels withdrew from the event.

"My statement was, I won't go anywhere on the fourth of July where I cannot commend our troops or can't even mention the people that died on Sept. 11," he says. Instead, Daniels played a July 4 show in Atlanta, and the local PBS affiliate aired him performing an acoustic version of the song following the national broadcast.

"Charlie is so articulate and so well-read. He's a great American, because he stays involved and stays interested in what's going on with the government," says Blue Hat Records president David Corlew, who is also Daniels' manager. "He's also an incredible artist who loves what he does. That's the root of success. He's never broken stride. He's never quit entertaining."

Always a prolific artist, Daniels is currently working on a Christmas album that is due this fall. It will mark his fourth Blue Hat/Audium release since last fall's "Live Record - Greatest Hits." Daniels followed with the two-CD hymns package "How Sweet the Sound - 25 Favorite Hymns," issued through EMI Christian Music Group. Now, there's "Redneck Fiddlin' Man" and his forthcoming Christmas collection.

At 65, Daniels does not have any plans to slow down. "I have not reached the point where I'm ready to make that change," he says. "I thank God I'm making a living doing what I do. It makes me feel real good."





Excerpted from the July 13, 2002, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the Billboard.com members section.

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