Billboard caught up with the country star Darius Rucker, who is about to release a new album titled Southern Style, to talk about balancing family and career and his Southern pride.
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Most country stars record in Nashville, which is filled with great studios and session players. Why do you do it at home in Charleston?
I like living a normal life, dropping off and picking up my kids at school and all that stuff, while also spending a little time doing some vocals on a record. So we just hang out at my house when we record. You still come up with something great, but it’s not like when we’re having five sessions a day and trying to knock it out. It’s pretty laid-back. And it definitely affects my vocals because I’m always so much happier and so much more relaxed.
You often sing about your family life, which not many artists were doing in country when you crossed over from pop. What difference has that made for you?
I live a pretty normal life, besides the fact that daddy has to go sing for people on the weekends. That’s the way I want it. I get asked, “Why don’t you do this? Why don’t you do that?” We’ve turned down some great things. I want to play the music and raise the kids. There was a time when it wasn’t that way. But I’m 48 now. I’ve been blessed to be in the music business on a national scale for 20 years.
This isn’t your first album to reference Southern identity. When did that find an important place in your music?
I don’t know when it happened. It was just like all of a sudden, not every song, but one out of every 10 songs had the word “south” or “Charleston” or “Carolina” in it. A lot of people I write with know my pride in where I’m from.
Has singing country altered your vocal approach through the years?
I don’t know how it has changed it, because I never think that way. I try to keep my approach pretty simple and straightforward. I just sing what I feel — I never think I’m doing anything that different. Then you listen back and you go, “That doesn’t really sound like [Hootie & The Blowfish‘s 1994 smash single] ‘Hold My Hand.’ ” But, you know, I’m just singing.
This story originally appeared in the April 4th issue of Billboard.