Sold-Out Ryman Auditorium and At-Home Mandolin Live Stream Audiences + Golf Tournament Participants Combine to Raise More Than $410,000 in 2021
All-Star Lineup Featured Jason Aldean, Brothers Osborne, John Daly, Keb’ Mo’, Runaway June and Elvie Shane
Event Photos Available HERE
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Nearly 15 years after first visiting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital® where he was immediately inspired to pledge his support, three-time GRAMMY Award winner Darius Rucker continues to give back to the mission, surpassing the $2.5 million mark in his fundraising efforts with this year’s 12th annual “Darius & Friends” benefit concert on Tuesday night, preceded by his corresponding golf tournament and silent auction on Monday morning. This year’s event alone raised more than $410,000, bringing together a sold-out audience at the historic Ryman Auditorium with at-home fans watching via the Mandolin live stream.
Reflecting on his first visit to the hospital in 2008 to the Tennessean ahead of this year’s show, Rucker noted, “You see these kids who are sick, and they’re so happy to be there, because their caregivers are so loving and giving to them. And then you find out that nobody ever gets a bill. That blew me away. I was just like, ‘We’ll figure out some way to help you guys as much as I can.’”
Now, more than a decade later, that effort has become an annual tradition. The benefit concert, which typically serves as an unofficial kickoff to CMA Fest as fans descend on Music City each summer, was hosted virtually in 2020 due to the ongoing pandemic. In returning home to the iconic Ryman Auditorium this year, the live stream was also kept in place to allow fans at home to tune in alongside the sold-out audience who were treated to a surprise lineup of stars featuring Jason Aldean, Brothers Osborne, John Daly, Keb’ Mo’, Runaway June and Elvie Shane.
After a silent auction and live donation round, Rucker kicked off the musical festivities with a trio of hits – his Platinum-certified No. 1s “This” and “For the First Time” followed by current single “My Masterpiece” – before introducing the first friends of the evening.
“I’ve been in this town for 12 years and I’ve gotten to know a lot of people,” Rucker noted, “but some people you get to really know and they become family. These guys are family.” With that, the Ryman audience gave a rousing welcome to six-time GRAMMY nominees Brothers Osborne, who brought a high-energy performance of their hits “It Ain’t My Fault,” “I’m Not For Everyone” and “Shoot Me Straight.”
“You’ve got to drop the name and tell the story, right?” said Rucker as he returned to the stage, sharing the tale behind an Ed Sheeran cowrite that resulted in brand new song “Sara,” a where-are-they-now ode to Rucker’s fifth grade girlfriend. He then thrilled the crowd with his Double Platinum-certified No. 1 “Alright” before introducing newcomer Elvie Shane, making his Ryman debut with an emotional performance of current Top 10 single “My Boy,” which drew a standing ovation from the audience, and keeping the crowd on their feet with upbeat anthem “Keep On Strummin’.”
“I was working retail in the early Hootie days, selling records,” shared Rucker as he returned to the stage, “and this song by Nanci Griffith was playing one day. It blew my mind, and it started my love for Country music… Years later, my mom had a heart attack and went into a coma. I sat in that hospital room for eight hours and I sang this song over and over. This week Nanci died. She’s one of my great friends and I want to play this song because it means so much to me,” he noted, before performing an emotional rendition of “I Hope It Rains” in tribute to his late friend.
Rucker then invited yet another surprise guest to the stage, sending the audience into a frenzy as he introduced legendary golfer John Daly. Together, they performed a rousing rendition of “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” before Rucker continued with his hits “Homegrown Honey” and “If I Told You” as well as Hootie & the Blowfish classic “Hold My Hand.”
“I would do anything for him, and I know he’d do anything for me,” shared Rucker of his next guest, introducing three-peat ACM Entertainer of the Year Jason Aldean. “He did me dirty making me follow a Hootie song,” joked Aldean, before noting “Darius really is one of the nicest, coolest guys in town and so it’s a pleasure to be here, especially for St. Jude.”
Sitting on a stool and accompanied by a single guitar player, Aldean thrilled the crowd with stripped-back versions of his 3x Platinum No. 1 hit “Big Green Tractor” and Gold-certified No. 1 “Any Ol’ Barstool.” Rucker then returned to the stage to perform “Radio” and Hootie hit “Only Wanna Be With You,” ahead of introducing the penultimate guest for the evening; five-time GRAMMY Award winner Keb’ Mo’, who wowed with “Rita” and “I Remember You” before inviting Rucker back for a duet of the Marvin Gaye classic “What’s Going On,” earning a sustained ovation from the crowd.
Rucker kept the Hootie & the Blowfish nostalgia coming as he performed “Let Her Cry” under a single spotlight, accompanied by a violin and the chorus of a sold out Mother Church audience, before continuing the singalong with his latest No. 1 hit, “Beers And Sunshine.” He then introduced the final surprise guests of the evening, bringing trio Runaway June to the stage for their Ryman debut. The CMT “Next Women of Country” thrilled with their Top 5 hit “Buy My Own Drinks” and gave fans a preview of brand new music out this Friday with “T-Shirt” before inviting the audience to sing along for their rendition of the Tom Petty classic, “American Girl.”
Rucker closed out the main entertainment of the evening with his Platinum-certified No. 1 “Come Back Song” before returning to the stage for an encore that included a cover of “Valerie,” with Rucker backed by the powerful vocals of his keys player’s wife, Tiffany Turner, and an upbeat performance of album cut “Hands On Me.” The evening then 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.
This year’s milestone fundraising event adds yet another successful page to the decade-plus history of “Darius & Friends.” Prior guests have included Lauren Alaina, Brooks & Dunn, Kane Brown, Luke Bryan, Sheryl Crow, Ashley McBryde, A.J. McLean of the Backstreet Boys, Brad Paisley, Kenny Rogers and Paul Stanley of KISS, among many others.
The annual fundraising event, made possible with support from generous sponsors PGA TOUR, CDW, Hendrix Enterprises, UMG, CAA, A. O. Smith, AMD, Arrow and Intel, helps ensure families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food – because all a family should worry about is helping their child live.
For more information, visit www.DariusRucker.com and follow on social media @DariusRucker. Fans can also continue to donate to St. Jude in honor of “Darius & Friends” HERE and photos from the event are available HERE.
Full “Darius & Friends” 2021 Set List:
Darius Rucker: “This,” “For the First Time,” “My Masterpiece”
Brothers Osborne: “It Ain’t My Fault,” “I’m Not For Everyone,” “Shoot Me Straight”
Darius Rucker: “Sara,” “Alright”
Elvie Shane: “My Boy,” “Keep On Strummin’”
Darius Rucker: “I Hope It Rains”
John Daly & Darius Rucker: “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”
Darius Rucker: “Homegrown Honey,” “If I Told You,” “Hold My Hand”
Jason Aldean: “Big Green Tractor,” “Any Ol’ Barstool”
Darius Rucker: “Radio,” “Only Wanna Be With You”
Keb’ Mo’: “Rita,” “I Remember You, “What’s Going On” (with Darius Rucker)
Darius Rucker: “Let Her Cry,” “Beers And Sunshine”
Runaway June: “Buy My Own Drinks,” “T-Shirt,” “American Girl”
Darius Rucker: “Come Back Song”
Encore – Darius Rucker: “Valerie” (with Tiffany Turner), “Hands On Me,” “Wagon Wheel”
About Darius Rucker
Rucker first achieved multi-Platinum status in the music industry as lead singer and rhythm guitarist of the GRAMMY Award-winning band Hootie & the Blowfish, who have sold more than 25M albums worldwide including their Diamond-certified debut Cracked Rear View, which remains among the Top 10 best-selling studio albums of all time. Since releasing his first Country album in 2008, Rucker has earned a whole new legion of fans with four No. 1 albums on the Billboard Country chart, including RIAA Platinum-certified Learn to Live and True Believers, plus ten No. 1 singles at Country radio and 11 Gold, Platinum or multi-Platinum certified hits. In 2014, Rucker won his third career GRAMMY Award for Best Solo Country Performance with his 9x Platinum version of Old Crow Medicine Show’s “Wagon Wheel,” one of the top five best-selling Country songs of all time. He recently co-hosted the 54th annual CMA Awards and topped the charts at Country radio once again with “Beers And Sunshine” in February. Follow up single “My Masterpiece” is available everywhere now as Rucker puts the finishing touches on a forthcoming album.
As a lifelong philanthropist, Rucker supports the MUSC Children's Hospital in his hometown of Charleston, South Carolina and has also raised millions of dollars for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital through his annual “Darius & Friends” benefit concert and golf tournament. Rucker has also advocated for over 200 charitable causes supporting public education and junior golf programs in South Carolina through the Hootie & the Blowfish Foundation and serves as a National Chair for the National Museum of African American Music in Nashville.
About Jason Aldean
Three-time ACM “Entertainer of the Year” Jason Aldean continues to hold his ground making modern albums with an old-school soul—most recently with his ninth studio album, 9, which debuted at the top spot on Billboard’s Country Albums chart. Notably, all seven of Aldean’s previous studio albums have been certified Platinum, while bolstering 25 No. 1 hits, 15 billion streams and more than 20 million albums sold. Continuing success outside of the music industry, Aldean recently launched his latest collaboration, Wolf Moon Bourbon, an 80 proof bourbon that has been distilled from Midwestern grains and aged for four years offering a finish of caramel, oak and spice. Aldean's a card-carrying member of Country's elite headliners whose incendiary tours are nearing legendary status as he is one of the few acts in the genre to sell-out multiple stadiums including UGA’s Sanford Stadium, Fenway Park and Wrigley Field. He recently launched his Jason Aldean: Back in the Saddle Tour 2021, produced by Live Nation, with special guests HARDY, Lainey Wilson, John Morgan and Dee Jay Silver. For more information, visit www.JasonAldean.com.
About Brothers Osborne
Two sons from a working-class family, John and TJ Osborne grew up in a small, Maryland water town writing and playing songs for friends and family in their father’s shed. John moved to Nashville first to play in other bands and two years later, TJ joined him. It was then they formed Brothers Osborne as a duo that blends equal parts country and rock into one of the freshest, most identifiable sounds to come out of Nashville in recent years. The singer/songwriter siblings are three-time CMA Duo of the Year winners in addition to being named ACM Duo of the Year twice. Overall Brothers Osborne have collected four CMA, five ACM trophies and stand as seven-time GRAMMY nominees.
Brothers Osborne’s debut Gold Certified album Pawn Shop features three GRAMMY-nominated tracks including the Platinum-certified No. 1 smash hit “Stay A Little Longer,” Top 10 Platinum-certified hit “It Ain’t My Fault,” as well as Top 25 hit “21 Summer.” Their sophomore album, Port Saint Joe, was nominated for Best Country Album at the 61st GRAMMY Awards and includes the Top 40 GRAMMY-nominated singles “Shoot Me Straight” as well as “I Don’t Remember Me (Before You).” Brothers Osborne has previously toured with Chris Stapleton, Eric Church, Little Big Town, Miranda Lambert and more. In 2019 the duo embarked on a headlining world tour which included three sold-out nights at the famed Ryman Auditorium in Nashville which were recorded for their album, Live At The Ryman.
Brothers Osborne recently received the ASCAP Vanguard Award which recognizes artists whose innovative work is helping to shape the future of music. Their third studio album, Skeletons, was released October 2020 and features their current single “I’m Not For Everyone” as well as their Top 25 hit “All Night.” The duo released a new song titled “Younger Me” on April 16 in response to the overwhelming support TJ received after sharing his personal story. John and TJ wrote as well as produced the track with Kendell Marvel serving as an additional co-writer. Brothers Osborne’s We’re Not For Everyone Tour kicked off July 2021 and hits over 50 markets including New York, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Dallas, Atlanta and more.
About Keb’ Mo’
Keb’ Mo’s self-titled debut release under his coined Keb’ Mo’ moniker reached it’s quarter century milestone in 2019, and over the years, Keb’ has proven that he is a musical force that defies typical genre labels. Album after album, 14 in total, he has garnered 12 GRAMMY nominations and five GRAMMY awards, including his most recent 2019 release, Oklahoma, which won in the Best Americana Album category. The talented artist has also been awarded 14 Blues Foundation Awards and six BMI Awards for his work in TV & Film.
Over the past two decades, Keb’ has cultivated a reputation as a modern master of American roots music through the understated excellence of his live and studio performances. Artists who have recorded his songs include B.B. King, Buddy Guy, The Chicks, Joe Cocker, Robert Palmer, Tom Jones, Melissa Manchester, Solomon Burke and the Zac Brown Band, to name a few. The list of his collaborations comprises a who’s who in the music industry and includes Bonnie Raitt, Taj Mahal, Vince Gill, Amy Grant, Jackson Browne, Natalie Cole, Lyle Lovett, India Arie, James Cotton, Bobby Rush, Timothy B. Schmit, Marcus Miller and many more. Additionally, his guitar playing has garnered him two invites to Eric Clapton’s acclaimed Crossroads Festival and has inspired leading instrument makers, Gibson Brands, to issue the Keb’ Mo’ Signature Bluesmaster and Bluesmaster Royale acoustic guitars and Martin Guitars to issue the HD-28KM Keb’ Mo’ Limited Edition Signature model. He has also been featured in TV and film, playing Robert Johnson in the 1998 documentary “Can’t You Hear The Wind Howl,” appearing three times on the television series “Touched By An Angel,” playing the ghostly bluesman Possum in John Sayles’ 2007 movie, “Honeydripper,” and many other on-screen and sync features.
Keb’ Mo’ has been a long-time supporter of the Playing For Change Foundation (PFCF), a nonprofit organization that creates positive change through music education and has established 12 music schools around the world while also working with partners to address basic needs in the communities where they teach. Additionally, Keb’ is a celebrity mentor with both The Johnson School of Excellence in Chicago and the Kennedy Center’s Turnaround Arts program, which focuses on elementary and middle schools throughout the U.S., working with teachers, students, parents and the community to help build a successful arts education program. For more information on Keb’ Mo’, visit his official website at kebmo.com. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
About Runaway June
Proclaimed by Billboard as the “Next Hot Trend in Country Music” and likened to The Chicks for a new generation, Runaway June is comprised of Naomi Cooke (lead vocals/guitar), Natalie Stovall (vocals/fiddle/guitar) and Jennifer Wayne (vocals/guitar). The trio’s “inescapable talent” (AXS.com) is multiplied by their seamlessly rich, organic harmonies and fiery, western-rooted bluegrass sound. The “Next Women of Country” (CMT) have earned praise from Billboard, Rolling Stone Country, The Huffington Post, Paste, People and more. They’ve made numerous national TV appearances including “TODAY,” “GMA” and “
About Elvie Shane
The Gospel-born and Southern Rock-bred Elvie Shane seamlessly fuses Country with Soul to create a sound that has graced hundreds of dives, jukes and festivals across the States. Born on a Sunday in the quiet town of Caneyville, KY, it wasn’t but a week later when he was first introduced to music and the magic that it holds. Tucked firmly in his mother’s arms alongside a hymnal at the small-town Baptist church, Elvie would go on to spend many hours immersed in gospel before returning home. Greeting him in the driveway each Sunday afternoon were the sounds of Creedence Clearwater Revival, Steve Earle and The Temptations pouring out of the speakers of some old Ford his father would be tucked under, fixing up. Quickly drawn to the Rock n’ Roll sounds, it wasn’t until a Baptist Revival that his love of Gospel and Rock would collide—it was there that a young man who recently lost his lead singer heard Elvie sing and immediately invited him to play with his Rock band. Within six days, Elvie learned nearly a dozen new songs and performed his first show and fell in love with the stage. It was with this band that Elvie began songwriting—a talent that he has carried with him for many years. His songwriting ability caught the attention of fans as his debut single, “My Boy,” written about his stepson went viral on the internet in 2018 and again in 2021, having reached the No. 1 spot on the TikTok Country chart as it climbs through the Top 15 on Country radio with more than 68 million on-demand streams. This summer he has been taking his debut EP, County Roads, out on the road opening for greats like Jason Aldean, Miranda Lambert and Brooks & Dunn.
About St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital®
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Its purpose is clear: Finding cures. Saving children.® It is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children. Treatments invented at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20 percent to more than 80 percent since the hospital opened more than 50 years ago. St. Jude won’t stop until no child dies from cancer. St. Jude freely shares the discoveries it makes, and every child saved at St. Jude means doctors and scientists worldwide can use that knowledge to save thousands more children. Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food – because all a family should worry about is helping their child live. Visit St. Jude Inspire to discover powerful St. Jude stories of hope, strength, love and kindness. Join the St. Jude mission by visiting stjude.org, liking St. Jude on Facebook, following St. Jude on Twitter, Instagram
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