Jason LaVeris, FilmMagic
Darius Rucker's highly-anticipated third country album, True Believers, will be released in the spring, and no one is more anxious for that day to come than the singer himself.
Darius says he and producer Frank Rogers went into the recording process of the new CD wanting to take it in a different direction from his previous albums. "The most important thing this time was the songs," he explains. "This is the most important record of my career. This record will make me a country superstar or another country singer. We knew we had to have something special with this one, something that would connect with people and make them want to hear it over and over again and go out and buy it."
Two special guests join Darius on the new collection. Lady Antebellum adds harmonies to "Wagon Wheel," originally released by Old Crow Medicine Show, and Sheryl Crow joins him on "Love Without You." Darius says friends from other genres of music can't believe it when he tells them how easy it is to get people to sing on your records in Nashville.
"After we cut 'Wagon Wheel,' and it came out great, I asked Lady Antebellum if they would come in and sing on it with me. I called up Charles [Kelley] and he said yes, and then a couple day later I ran into Dave [Haywood] and Hillary [Scott] at a concert and mentioned it to them and they said sure. Two days later they were in the studio doing it. That would never happen in pop music ... lawyers would get involved and then either it wouldn't happen or someone would get paid big bucks to sing on it. Lady Antebellum took the song to a new level. Up until they added their vocals, I thought it was another song on the record. I bet it will be the next single."
Cool happenings with "Wagon Wheel" didn't stop with Lady Antebellum recording with Darius. The singer was reading his email after the song had been recorded, and out of the blue received a text reading: "Darius this is Ketch [Secor] from Old Crow Show Medicine Show. We're playing the Opry together and I hear you cut my song?"
"This is one of those things where God works in mysterious ways," Darius says. "So I go in that night and we're sitting in the back of the Opry rehearsing, and then we're on stage, and the first time I play that song live I'm doing it with Old Crow at the Opry. That was incredible."
Darius' other collaborator was special for the singer as well. "I've wanted to sing with Sheryl since '94 when we did the VH1 Fairway to Heaven event together [a golf benefit that also featured Vince Gill, Amy Grant, Alice Cooper and other celebrities]. We opened for her at that show, and ever since then I wanted to sing with her. After we finished that song, we were like 'Who are we going to get to sing on it?' I called up Sheryl and she said. 'Absolutely, when do you want me to come. I can be there in an hour.' Sheryl is one of biggest stars in the world. She came down in a heartbeat, which was awesome. I don't listen to my records a lot, but I'll put that song on right now. When she sings, the hair on my back stands up; she just killed it."
Darius says he wanted to do more country on the upcoming release because, "That's who I want to be, and at this point that's what Frank and I really care about. We still make records for me and him and we hope people like them when we're done. The album is me personified, it's a real personal record. In Hootie, there were four guys writing the song sand they'd bring them in and I would sing them. Now with me co-writing every song, it makes the record really personal. It's a record about life."
Referencing the title, True Believers, Darius acknowledges there are still those who think he was crazy to pursue a career in country music. "When I decided to do it, there were people telling me it would never work. There were naysayers everywhere but it just made us work harder."