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Darius Rucker Weighs in on the State of Country Music: ‘It’s Getting More and More

Country music’s landscape is changing by the day. Grammy-award winning artist Darius Rucker would be the first to tell you he’s excited about the direction the industry is going as it’s becoming more diverse and inclusive. At the same time, Rucker believes there’s still a lot more that needs to happen to grow the genre.

“Country music is getting more and more accepting,” Rucker told TheWrap at the 2023 CMT Music Awards. “That’s what you want, and that’s what you need.”

Rucker has seen the country music scene expand its audience, and the growing impact and influence of Black artists, first-hand. The former Hootie and the Blowfish singer crossed over into country in 2008 when he released his first solo single, “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It” which debuted at No. 51 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs.

Rucker tells TheWrap that 15 years ago, it was extremely unusual to see anyone who looks like him in country music. Now, he notes, Black country music stars are breaking through that glass ceiling. In 2022 for instance, Mickey Guyton became the first Black nominee for Best Country Album at the Grammys in the award’s history. And that same year Kane Brown became the first male country star to perform at the MTV VMAs.

Rucker said it is accomplishments like those that show country music is moving in the right direction, but added that now, artists must get people to start listening.

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“I think we need to get the listener stigma from country music,” Rucker said. “I know so many people stop listening to country music because of one song… I think we need to get the stigma away from that and get some more people to listen to it.”

Rucker isn’t the only one who has expressed the importance of diversity to grow the genre. While accepting the Equal Play Award at the 2023 CMT Music Awards, country music legend Shania Twain used the moment to highlight the importance of everyone getting a fair shake in an industry that is still not supporting women and people of color equally to their white counterparts.

“I believe in an all-inclusive country music. We’re family,” Twain said. “This is a genre of music with a rich history that raised and nurtured my own songwriting and performance and recording career from childhood. Currently, the industry standard does a real disservice to this.”

Twain announced on an upcoming “Queen of Me” tour this year, she’s bringing several diverse talents with her including Guyton, so they can continue get an equal opportunity.

“I will continue to do my best as a trailblazer. Together, let’s ensure all our fellow artists get equal play regardless of gender, age or race,” Twain said.

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