S.C. native Darius Rucker is one of several artists tapped to play the inaugural Charlotte Stands for Heroes concert Wednesday at Knight Theater. When he got the call, committing to a benefit concert not only to raise awareness and funds for wounded military veterans, but to entertain those soldiers and their families, was a no-brainer.
“I do a lot of fun and cool stuff with the military going overseas or here in the States. They called and asked. I’ve had a good relationship with the Panthers, and what they wanted to do sounded so awesome. Entertaining those veterans who are getting a great night to be celebrated,” says Rucker.
His visiting deployed soldiers overseas has given him a greater appreciation and understanding of what they do.
“Oh goodness, yeah. I’ve been over to Saudi Arabia and ended up seeing an old friend that I spent every day with growing up. I wondered what happened to him. I’m playing this place and we’re setting up and he walks up and grabs me around the waist,” he recalls. “To see friends I haven’t seen a long time in places, it’s crazy to see them there. I’ve gotten to go to Africa and to the Middle East and Europe and Asia – everywhere – with the military to play for our troops. Those things for me are all about trying to bring an hour and half or two hours of home for those people that are away from home defending our right to freedom. Anytime I can be a part of it, I’m proud to do it.”
Rucker’s joined by comedian Sinbad and “The Voice” runner-up Meghan Linsey, who will sing the national anthem. The entertainers are joined by ESPN analysts Herm Edwards, Merril Hoge and Mark Brunell; 2014 Walter Payton Man of the Year and Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis; NFL players Warrick Dunn, Will Shields, Jay Novacek and Jordan Gross; and Olympic swimmer Cullen Jones.
Rucker admits he receives a number of requests to play fundraisers and has to pick and choose based on the cause and his schedule.
“It’s hard. I never want to say no as long as it’s a great cause. Working as much as I do, it’s so important for me to be there for things that are happening with my kids. When I weigh all that stuff it comes down to if I can or if I can’t. Or if I have a play or a basketball game to go to,” he explains.
Rucker, who is currently writing his next album, will make it back to Charlotte in August for his annual gig at PNC Music Pavilion. Brothers Osborne, Brett Elderidge and A Thousand Horses will join him.
When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Where: Knight Theater, 430 S. Tryon St.
Details: 704-372-1000; www.charlottestandsforheroes.com.