AUSTIN, Texas (Billboard) - With his second No. 1 country single, Hootie & the Blowfish frontman Darius Rucker now feels his welcome to the country world isn't a fluke.
"The acceptance has been really great, much more than I ever expected," says Rucker, who's spending a second week atop the Hot Country Songs chart with "It Won't Be Like This For Long," the second single from his 2008 album "Learn to Live."
Rucker credits the fact that "I've been going to Nashville for so long, and I'm on a Nanci Griffith record and the Radney Foster records and I worked with Mark O'Connor. I've been writing songs with people there and just have been around the whole country music world.
"It wasn't that I was part of the scene, but I knew a lot of people that were. So I think when ('Learn to Live') came out, it wasn't like, 'What's this guy doing making a country record?!' I already had some credibility there, and I really love the music."
"It Won't Be Like This For Long" makes Rucker the first male artist to place his first two singles atop the Hot Country Songs chart since Clay Walker 15 years ago, and this week marks the first time that an artist's first two format singles reigned for multiple weeks since March 1997.
Rucker's "Don't Think I Don't Think About It," the first single from his debut country album, "Learn to Live," led for two weeks in October. The only other acts to accomplish the feat are Clint Black, Brooks & Dunn, Deana Carter, Faith Hill, Jamie O'Neal and Wynonna.
Rucker's first country No. 1, "Don't Think I Don't Think About It," was the first by a black artist since Charlie Pride's "Night Games" 25 years earlier.
"It Won't Be Like This For Long" grew out of a songwriting session with Chris DuBois and Ashley Gorley. "We had written this big drinkin' song called 'Drinkin' and Dialin'," Rucker recalls, "so we got together to write another drinking song. And before we wrote it we were talking about our kids. And afterward we were still talking about our kids, and we decided we were going to write a little lullaby song for me to sing to my kids, and before long we had 'It Won't Be Like This For Long.'"
Rucker expects to release a third single from "Learn To Live," which debuted at No. 1 on the Top Country Albums chart. He'll be touring this spring and summer with Rascal Flatts, whose dates will be announced soon.
(Editing by Dean Goodman at Reuters)