"My Masterpiece": Darius Rucker recalls the moment he knew he had to live his life onstage

"I can't play piano like Ray Charles," Darius Rucker sings in his new hit, "My Masterpiece."

And while the Hootie & the Blowfish frontman did work on his skills tickling the ivories during the pandemic, his connection to the R&B legend -- also famous for his country catalog -- actually goes much deeper: Ray Charles was one of the first artists Darius ever saw perform live.

"I think I saw Ray Charles when I was really young, and I remember that being great," Darius recalls. "But it was tough for us because we didn't have a lot of money to do a lot of stuff like that. We didn't get to go to a lot of shows when people came to town and everything."

It was another soul legend, however, that let Darius know he had to pursue a life onstage. In fact, Darius still gets so excited today, it's hard for him to find the words to tell the story.

"I remember, I guess, being in the seventies and seeing Frankie Beverly and Maze live and thinking, 'God, I want to play,'" he explains. "It was really the first time I... remember being [at] a place where it meant something to me. And, you know, I was I was 10 or 11 or 12 or something."

"And I'm watching it and going," he continues," "'...Everybody's up there playing an instrument. They're all playing together... I have to do this. God put me here to do that.'"

It's a mission Darius still takes seriously, as he plans his 12th annual Darius & Friends benefit concert August 17 at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville to help St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Tickets go on sale this Friday.

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