Legendary Musician/Songwriter Charlie Daniels By Jamie O’Quinn
After fifty years on the music scene, you never know what this long haired country boy might do next.Born in North Carolina and presently residing in Tennessee, legendary songwriter/musician Charlie Daniels is probably one of the most beloved entertainers in the South.In fact the Encyclopedia of Southern Culture states, “Few individuals have symbolized the South in popular culture as directly and indelibly as Charlie Daniels."
Having performed music since the 1950s, he is known for hits such as “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” “The South’s Gonna Do It,” “Uneasy Rider,” and “Long Haired Country Boy”.His amazing career has included Gold, Platinum, and Multiplatinum albums and appearances in both network television and motion pictures. His songs have been recorded by Elvis Presley and Tammy Wynette, and his recording sessions have included artists such as Bob Dylan, Flatt & Scruggs, and Ringo Starr. Accolades include membership in the Grand Ole Opry, Grammy Award winner, Country Music Association winner, Academy of Country Music’s Touring Band of the Year( twice), and an October 2009 induction into the Musicians Hall of Fame.
Taking a few moments around lunchtime while on tour in New York, Daniels spoke to me by phone and shared some insight into his intriguing musical career.
Q:Looking over your musical career, it seems evident that your style can’t be categorized into one genre or another.How come?
A:I don’t categorize the music because it actually puts limitations on it. We perform all kinds of music and if I put a name on it, we’d be limited to doing that one thing.I just do it and let people call it what they want.
Q:I understand you have a new CD that came out in October. I know the bonus DVD, “A Twin Pines Christmas,” that’s part of it contains live performances, commentary and interview footage. Can you tell me a little about the CD itself?
A:Yes, it’s called “Joy To the World:A Bluegrass Christmas with Charlie Daniels and Friends.”There are guest appearances by Kathy Mattea, Dan Tyminski, Jewel, Suzanne and Evelyn Cox, Aaron Tippin and the Grascals.
I cut my teeth on bluegrass when I was a kid, and, in fact, the first real band I played in was a bluegrass band.
Q:What is your favorite part about performing?
A:Watching people enjoy something I created.I just use my God-given talent to deliver it to them.The thrill of the whole thing is playing live concerts in front of people.
It’s great to see people come back.In fact we have a special part of our fan club called the Century Club where we give a belt buckle and certificate to people who have seen us 100 times ---- that’s a lot of shows over the years.You wouldn’t believe how many of those I’ve given out.In fact, we have one guy who has seen us over 300 times.It’s gratifying to have people stay with us that long.
Q:Your band has been together for a long time as well.Members have been with you for 39 years, 24 years, and so forth.I know you’ve stated this is the best band you have ever had.It’s evident they seem to enjoy it too, don’t you think?
A:Well, we pay them on time, and the checks don’t bounce.
Q:I know your work has touched a lot of different people, not only fans but other artists as well.How do you feel about your work being performed by other people?
A:I love to hear other people perform our stuff and give their treatment of what we do.It’s a very big compliment to have someone do it.
Q:Is there something special about you having Southern roots?
A:People ask where I like to play and I say, “Anywhere I can get grits for breakfast.”This is my heritage and I can’t imagine living anywhere else.
Q:In addition to music, I also understand you enjoy horses.I recently learned that Petal, Mississippi, photographer Vaughn Wilson not only interviewed you about a horse story to be included in his new book but he also did a painting of you.Tell me a little bit.
A:I’m very much into horses and have been in the business for 30 years now.We raise Quarter horses and Paints.
I knew he did photography but I didn’t realize he did paintings.He did one of me which is hanging in my office.I definitely respect his talent.
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