Why Stars Like Kane Brown Call Darius Rucker Country Music’s Official ‘Welcome Wagon’

When anyone decides to begin a career in country music, the first person to welcome them into the family is likely Darius Rucker.

Written by Lauren Laffer
Why Stars Like Kane Brown Call Darius Rucker Country Music’s Official ‘Welcome Wagon’
Darius Rucker performs at Nissan Stadium on Thursday, June 7 during the 2018 CMA Music Festival in downtown Nashville; Photo credit: Donn Jones/CMA

Country music is often referred to as one big family. Many of the artists reside in Nashville, have friendships with one another, co-write, collaborate and support their peers. But joining that family can be a big step for new acts hoping to break into the genre, especially singers like self-proclaimed outside-the-box Kane Brown and pop star AJ McLean. While the two had trepidations about entering into the country community, they were met with open arms from the genre’s own “welcome wagon,” Darius Rucker.

“He was so open,” McLean, who recently took the stage with Rucker at his annual Darius & Friends benefit concert, shared with Sounds Like Nashville. “He said, ‘Dude, I’m proud of you. Welcome to the family.’ Whew. There’s no pressure now. Big words from him.”

Brown, who has worked with countless big-name acts, including Lauren Alaina, Florida Georgia Line, Chris Young, among others, was equally as thrilled when the “For The First Time” singer took him under his wing.

“It feels awesome [to have support] ’cause when I first got here, I didn’t feel wanted at first or welcome, but it’s not because nobody made me feel that way,” recalled Brown during a press conference at the 2018 CMA Music Festival. “It’s just because nobody knew me. I feel like I just was kind of thrown into it. So, just to be able to say I’m friends with these artists now and that they actually welcome me, and they’re actually proud of me, and they want to see me succeed, it’s like one of the greatest feelings in the world.”

Graciously opening his arms to those hoping to have a career in country is something the South Carolina native experienced himself when he decided to release his debut solo album a decade ago.

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“I think I’m like that because so many people are like that for me. I remember telling Vince Gill a year before my record came out that I was making a country record and it was amazing how much he championed that. Vince is old school. He’s like, ‘This is great. It’s gonna be great.’ He sang on my first record and stuff like that, so since it was that way for me, I’m just the welcoming kinda guy,” Rucker told Sounds Like Nashville and other media during CMA Fest. “Kane and I, Kane’s my guy. I’m so happy and I’m so proud of him. I was watching his career, I was watching him on the Internet and everything. Then he gets his record deal and he’s putting out these hits and winning awards, and I’m proud of Kane. We’ve really become great friends. I’m just that guy. When I see you and we’re working together, I’m gonna go out of my way to make sure you feel welcomed, at least around my guys.”

Since taking the leap, Rucker, formerly of the band Hootie & The Blowfish, is likely country’s biggest success story when it comes to crossing over, and has garnered nine No.1 singles on the country charts to date. Rucker recently extended an invitation to his longtime buddies Lady Antebellum’s Charles Kelley, Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan when he recorded the Drivin’ N Cryin’ song “ Straight To Hell.”