MAY 21, 2013 BY: NORMAN BYRD
Rocker turned country star Darius Rucker probably thought that his days battling skeptics along racial lines were over. That is, until he received a racist tweet this weekend, according to a Yahoo Music report on May 20. But the singer didn’t just let the racist comment slide. He had a few words of his own for the hater. And some for all the other haters as well.
The user, one @pqkullman, posted to Rucker’s Twitter account: “@dariusrucker Leave country to the white folk.” (That account has since been deleted.)
The “I Got Nothin'” singer had something to say to that, so he fired back: “”@pqkullman: @dariusrucker Leave country to the white folk”. WOW. Is this 2013 or 1913”. He later added: “I’ll take my Grand Ole Opry membership and leave your racism.”
Rucker was inducted into country music’s most prestigious organization, the Grand Ole Opry, in October.
According to Taste of Country, the racist tweet came after some criticism about his singing of the Bob Dylan-penned (but unreleased) “Wagon Wheel.” Rucker has been open about being inspired to record the song after hearing it performed at his daughter’s high school talent show. He also performed the song with Old Crow Medicine Show (who combined the Dylan tune “Rock Me Mama” with the unreleased “Wagon Wheel” for the song’s current incarnation), who had a hit with the song in 2004, at the Grand Ole Opry in July 2012. After some favorable feedback, he decided to record it for his fourth solo album. Issued as the second single off the album, True Believers, which was released Tuesday (May 21), it appears to have been a good choice.”Wagon Wheel” reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart.
But not everybody will like your music, no matter how popular it gets. Rucker, an old hand at writing and/or choosing popular tunes (six Top 40 singles off of two No. 1 albums with Hootie and the Blowfish), had some advice for those really not into his music.
Taking it back to Twitter, Rucker wrote: “Gotta go to bed this has been hilarious tonight. If any hater thinks I care what u think. I don’t make music for u. So don’t listen.”
Pretty sound advice.
But one would think that what with two consecutive No. 1 albums on the Country Albums chart, not to mention six chart-topping singles, someone wanting to leave a racist tweet would understand the ridiculousness of the concept. And it’s not like he’s attempted to hide the fact that he’s black (videos, album covers, magazine features, the Internet — oh, and that whole other career he had as the black singer for that white band, Hootie and the Blowfish). But some tend to hold onto antiquated, ignorant thinking longer than others. Thoughts like country music being a sort of “whites only” club.
It is difficult to imagine what country legend Charley Pride must have went through all those years ago when he started his country music career. As noted by AllMusic.com, a popular country singer in the 60s and 70s (and on classic country genre stations today), Pride’s first couple albums and promotional singles sent to radio stations were released without a photo of the singer on them in an effort to avoid blowback from a white-dominated music genre (especially in the South, where the effects of Jim Crow laws were still predominant) that might be reluctant to play songs from a black singer.
Good thing there wasn’t anything like Twitter back in the 1960s…
Still, Charley Pride would go on to record 36 No. 1 hits on the Billboard country charts and be one of the few African Americans ever inducted into the Grand Ole Opry.
Darius Rucker is the most successful black artist country music has seen since Charley Pride. He’s the only black artist since Pride to win a Country Music Association award as well. It would appear that, for some, having a really successful black country singer every half-century or so is just a bit too much.
But Rucker had the right advice for those haters. Don’t listen.
Perhaps he might have added “don’t tweet” as well, but knowing how futile that kind of advice is in the age of Internet anonymity, he may have thought better of it.
In the discussion following the racist tweet, one fan asked Rucker why he even bothered retweeting the racist comment. Rucker’s answer was simple: “So the world can see them.”
And because this is 2013, not 1913…