Celebrity Connection: Darius Rucker

The acclaimed singer and songwriter is returning to Long Cove Club for a private performance at the annual Darius Rucker Intercollegiate.

Story By Leslie T. Snadowsky

©Austin Friedline

Darius Rucker, the bankable baritone of Hootie & the Blowfish, a band he fronted and founded while a student at the University of South Carolina in the 1980s, is a multi-platinum, Grammy award-winning singer, songwriter and rhythm guitarist, who’s also aced the Billboard country albums charts as a solo country artist.

The Charleston native and brand ambassador for Parsons Xtreme Golf (PXG), will perform a private concert for players, coaches, sponsors and Long Cove Club residents at the 10th Annual Darius Rucker Intercollegiate golf tournament at Long Cove Club on Hilton Head. The tournament runs from Monday, February 28, to Wednesday, March 2.

Billed as the “No. 1 Women’s Collegiate Event in the Country,” the tournament is hosted by the University of South Carolina women’s golf team and will welcome 17 top teams from around the country to compete for the title. Philanthropic putter Rucker told LOCAL Life why his eponymous event is always a hole-in-one.

©Keith Griner

[LOCAL Life] The 10th Annual Darius Rucker Intercollegiate has turned into a prestigious sporting event, drawing top teams from around the country. What do you enjoy most about this tournament that’s been named after you? [Darius Rucker] I’m always in awe of the talent. We have a great time meeting all of the players and playing music, but at the end of the day it’s really about these talented women on the course and getting to witness that level of skill. It’s an honor to have my name attached to an event that showcases such an elite level of golf.

[LL] More than 30 past participants are currently playing on the LPGA Tour. That means almost 13 percent of all active LPGA Tour players have played in your tournament here. Is it fair to say the event offers fans a chance to see the future of women’s professional golf? And are you excited to perform for them? [DR] Absolutely! It will be a great night of music! We missed being able to celebrate together last year, so this will be a nice reunion, and I know the energy of all of us being back together again will make it a special show. We’re fortunate to have the best players and the best teams participate in the tournament every year, so it’s been cool to see how many of our participants go on to have great success with the LPGA Tour. 

[LL] Southern Living named you the 2021 Southerner of the Year, and let’s face it, your name is pretty synonymous with the Lowcountry. What do you love most about life in the South? [DR] That was so cool. I’m proud to be from Charleston. So much of who I am was shaped by growing up here, and I continue to call it home to this day. I love how relaxed and friendly people are in the South. And of course the food!

[LL] You recently teamed up with Fanatics and the NFL for an apparel line inspired by your love of music, football and fashion. What made you want to be a part of that? [DR] I’ve been a huge football fan my whole life. Outside of spending time with my family, golf, music and football are the top three things I enjoy. When I got the chance to have my name right next to the NFL logo on a whole line of really great clothes, saying yes was a no-brainer. It’s a dream come true!

[LL] You took a break from Hootie & the Blowfish and rock ‘n roll, went solo as an R&B artist and then turned to country music in 2008 and produced five country-music albums, winning multiple awards. In October you helped celebrate the 5,000th Saturday night broadcast of the Grand Ole Opry. How important has the Grand Ole Opry been to you? [DR] The Grand Ole Opry is the pinnacle of country music. As a little kid in Charleston, WSM AM was one of the only stations I could get to tune in on the little radio in my bedroom, so I listened to the Opry broadcast religiously. Being invited into that membership – that family – was one of the greatest moments of my entire life.

[LL] Your mother was a nurse at MUSC in Charleston for more than 30 years, and you’ve since helped raise millions of dollars for the hospital. Is that one of the reasons why you participated in the Metallica Blacklist project with your cover of “Nothing Else Matters?” [DR] I’ve always been a fan of Metallica, so I was honored to have the chance to be part of this special project. “Nothing Else Matters” is such a well-known song, which made it a fun challenge to try to put my spin on it. Plus the proceeds went to Metallica’s All Within My Hands Foundation and MUSC Children’s Hospital, so it was for a great cause.

[LL] How important has music been through these times of quarantine, and how difficult has it been for you professionally and for other musicians you know? [DR] Music can be so powerful for healing and for bringing people together, which has been more important than ever these past couple of years since we couldn’t physically gather. We were able to perform a few virtual shows for hospital patients and healthcare workers, which felt like the least we could do for them during these times. You can see the way music lifts people up and brings some joy in a tough time. As an artist, there’s nothing more rewarding than seeing your music have an impact like that. But it’s been tough. When you spend decades on the road, that becomes your life, so it’s a major mental and emotional adjustment to step away from that and not be able to do what you love. And, of course, the financial impact on a lot of people in this industry has been devastating. Thankfully, things are starting to pick back up, and I think we’ll all go back out on the road with a renewed appreciation for how lucky we are to do this for a living.

[LL] What advice do you give aspiring musicians? [DR] I think the biggest thing is to stay true to yourself and be willing to work hard, even when doors don’t seem to be opening. Hootie & the Blowfish got hundreds of rejection letters in the early years, but all it took was one chance to make our dreams a reality. And once you do get that break, never take for granted how incredible it is to be able to call this a job.

©David McClister

Darius Rucker Intercollegiate

What: Top women’s golf teams from around the country will compete for the title, including Alabama, Arizona State, Arkansas, Auburn, Baylor, Duke, Furman, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Louisville, North Carolina, Northwestern, Texas, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest and host South Carolina. 

When: February 28-March 2

Where: Long Cove Club

Details: Spectators are welcome at no charge. Learn more at LongCoveDRI.com.

2020 Team Champions – Wake Forest

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