Darius Rucker Raises $715,000 For St. Jude
Darius Rucker at the Ryman Auditorium, Nashville, Tennessee
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Darius Rucker Raises $715,000 For St. Jude

Nearly two decades after first visiting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital where he was immediately inspired to pledge his support, CMA Humanitarian of the Year Darius Rucker continues to give back, surpassing the $4.3 million mark with this year’s 15th annual “Darius and Friends” benefit concert on Monday night, June 3, which was paired with a corresponding celebrity golf tournament yesterday, June 4. This year’s event alone raised an all-time high of $715,000 for the cause.

Sold out well in advance despite the three-time GRAMMY winner’s famous friends not being revealed until they took the stage, the unofficial kickoff to CMA Fest featured dozens of hit songs and beloved covers by Rucker as well as his surprise guests Ingrid Andress, Dan + Shay, Jamey Johnson, Chase Matthew and Shane Profitt. Rucker was also joined by his Hootie & the Blowfish bandmate Mark Bryan fresh off opening weekend of the group’s Summer Camp with Trucks Tour.

After a live auction and donation round which added thousands to the fundraising tally, Rucker kicked off the main event with a trio of hits – “Have A Good Time” off new album Carolyn’s Boy, his 10th and most recent No. 1 hit “Beers and Sunshine” and chart-topping “For The First Time” – before introducing the first friend of the evening as rising star Chase Matthew took the stage to perform Gold-certified “Love You Again,” Platinum-certified “County Line” and a cover of his upcoming tourmate Jason Aldean’s chart topper, “She’s Country,” earning a the newcomer a standing ovation at the Mother Church.

GRAMMY Award-winning duo Dan + Shay also thrilled the packed house with their hits “Speechless” and “Tequila,” plus the title track to their latest album, “Bigger Houses,” while Billboard Rookie of the Month Shane Profitt wowed the Ryman audience with top 15 hit “How It Oughta Be” and “Better Off Fishin’.”

As is customary at the annual event, Rucker also returned to the stage between each guest set, treating fans to hits ranging from his Platinum-certified country breakout “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It” and Double Platinum-certified No. 1 “Alright” to current single “Never Been Over,” with the multi-genre star branching out from his own catalog for rousing versions of Bell Biv Devoe’s “Poison,” Tim McGraw’s “I Like It, I Love It” and TLC’s “Waterfalls.” Hootie & the Blowfish bandmate Mark Bryan also joined him for fan-favorites “Only Wanna Be With You” and “Hold My Hand,” offering a taste of what to expect on the road this summer.

Ingrid Andress made a rare live appearance during a hiatus from touring to offer a well-received take on John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” plus her chart-topping hit “More Hearts Than Mine” and a solo version of her Sam Hunt duet, “Wishful Drinking,” while Jamey Johnson offered yet another standout moment with an evocative performance of his emotional hit “In Color” as well as “Give It Away,” the No. 1 hit he penned for George Strait, with Rucker then joining him for a stirring duet of Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues.”

Closing out the memorable evening, the host of the night owned the stage one final time as the show ended according to tradition, with Rucker joined by the sold-out Ryman crowd for a “Wagon Wheel” singalong, the feel-good energy throughout the auditorium symbolic of the night as a whole.

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About Jerry Holthouse

Music editor for Nashville.com. Jerry Holthouse is a content writer, songwriter and a graphic designer. He owns and runs Holthouse Creative, a full service creative agency. He is an avid outdoorsman and a lover of everything music. You can contact him at JerryHolthouse@Nashville.com

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