Darius Rucker Helps Stars Share COVID Hardship Stories

Find out how the stars are coping with the derailing of their careers -- and what that means for their teams.

Written by Chris Parton
Darius Rucker Helps Stars Share COVID Hardship Stories
Darius Rucker backstage at "The 54th Annual CMA Awards," airing live Wednesday, November 11, 2020 on ABC from Music City Center in Downtown Nashville; Photo courtesy of CMA

The music industry has been hit hard by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, leaving countless musicians, road crew members and more without a source of income. That’s been a difficult pill to swallow for the stars those people rely on, and Darius Rucker helped a few open up for a heartfelt pre-CMA Awards special on ABC.

Sitting down with CMA Awards co-host for Country Strong 2020 on Tuesday (November 10), Jimmie Allen, Ashley McBryde and Charlie Worsham shared the anguish that came with the shutdown of concert touring — and it’s not just about missing the stage. Each one of them described the pain of feeling powerless to help their friends get by, many of whom have become like family.

“That was the toughest part for me, when finally you have to say you just can’t pay everybody,” Darius Rucker explained. “I paid everybody as long as I could, and you see all this money going out and none coming in, but they’re your band. I’ve been with these guys fourteen years, and the toughest part of all this is knowing people are struggling bad — and not just people, people you love … and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

“I couldn’t sleep,” Allen agreed, wiping tears from his eyes. “I definitely did something that a lot of financial advisors wouldn’t support. My band … they’ve sacrificed so much for me … I was stressed out because I was like ‘I’ll be good financially,’ but these guys have wives, they have families. So I said ‘Screw it.’ I went to the bank, and I took out this crazy loan. Like, a crazy loan. But I was like, ‘I’ve got 45 years to pay it back.'”

Country artists are dealing with much more than financial concerns, though. Just like everyone else, the mental toll of the pandemic and lockdowns has been a struggle.

Worsham described trying to learn how to be a husband in his first year of marriage, and how tough that is when you’re stressed to the max about your future. And Allen and McBryde both admitted they’ve been fighting depression.

“A lot of people know I was diagnosed with bi-polar,” Allen said. “And kind of how I coped with it was always staying busy. … Those first two weeks were rough. I didn’t get out of bed, didn’t eat, the mood swings were terrible.”

“I’m with you on the mental health side,” McBryde agreed. “We put a record out and we had so much momentum I could barely keep up everyday. And then the rug came out. ‘What do you mean we’re not going back out on the road?’ I’ve always told myself for the last three years because I’ve been so busy, that if I just had a little more time at home, I could get this done and I’d get this done — and I got none of it done. I became part of the bed, I became part of the couch. A lot of TV, and it wasn’t until I made myself really realize this ain’t going away, so you better put on your big girl boots and do what you know how to do. You miss songwriting? Then write every single day.”

Find out more about how country stars are coping with COVID-19 and celebrate an opportunity to get back to normal (at least a little bit) tonight on the 54th Annual CMA Awards. They kick off live at 8 p.m. ET on ABC, co-hosted by Darius Rucker and Reba McEntire.