Charleston native Darius Rucker had good reason to get excited and emotional on TV this week. On Wed. Nov. 11, he won the Best New Artist of the Year category at the annual Country Music Association Awards in Nashville — becoming the first black artist to win the category. He was also nominated in the Best Male Vocalist of the Year category as well.

Following the smashing success of Hootie & The Blowfish frontman’s 2008 country album Learn to Live — which climbed the Billboard country albums charts and country singles charts behind the song “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It” — Rucker became a bona fide country music star.

In his boisterous acceptance speech, Rucker said, “First of all, to the fans, thank y’all for accepting me. And I think most importantly, to country radio, you took a chance on a pop singer from Charleston, S.C. — thank you so much for that!”

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