All the money (and country music stardom) in the world couldn’t convince Darius Rucker to plant roots in any city other than his hometown of Charleston, South Carolina. And in the wake of the horrific church shootings there earlier this summer, the singer-songwriter proudly reports that his neighbors are stronger than ever.
“It’s just love, coming every day and every minute,” he tells Rolling Stone Country of the way people are coming together in the city.
Rucker’s 10-year-old son goes to school directly across the street from the historic Episcopal church where Dylann Roof murdered nine people during a Wednesday evening Bible study. “I park in the [church] parking lot to pick him up sometimes,” says Rucker. “That was . . . home. That was right in the heart of where we live, of our community.”
Rucker’s CMT Instant Jam show last week marked his first time performing in that community since the shootings. Taking the tempo down at one point during his set, the singer dedicated an a capella version of “Amazing Grace” to everyone affected by the murders.
“The tragedy broke my heart,” he said upon introducing the hymn. “The greatest feeling I’ve had in a long time is when that played out and our city didn’t divide. We said to that guy [Roof] that lives in a time that doesn’t exist anymore, ‘You wanted to mess with our city and instead you brought us together.'”
Rucker’s CMT Instant Jam was a free concert announced just 24 hours beforehand. The country hitmaker handpicked the Windjammer beach club as the venue, treating fans to his solo country hits, a few Hootie and the Blowfish classics, surprise cover songs and an ocean view.
Darius Rucker: CMT Instant Jam will air on CMT on September 5th at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT. Rolling Stone Country has an exclusive sneak peek at the show with this premiere [above] of “Alright,” another song that’s pretty reflective of the resilient residents of Charleston, South Carolina.