Darius Rucker invited to join Grand Ole Opry

Darius Rucker arrives at the 47th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards in Las Vegas on April 1, 2012. AP

Darius Rucker's conversion to country is now complete: He's joining the Grand Ole Opry.

Rucker performed on Tuesday night's Opry and received a visit from unannounced guest Brad Paisley, who surprised him with the invitation.

"I'm still surprised," Rucker said afterward. "They shocked me. Everybody, my wife and I'm just finding out even my kids knew. I wasn't expecting anything today. I didn't think tonight is the night I'd be asked to be a member of the Opry. That's unbelievable."

The singer rose to fame as the frontman for South Carolina rockers Hootie & The Blowfish but began to pursue his lifelong passion for country music a few years ago. He's had a multiplatinum, award-winning run since and will release his third country album early next year.

The 46-year-old is the third black performer to hold Opry membership, joining Country Music Hall of Fame members DeFord Bailey and Charley Pride.

"I felt like I was in," Rucker said. "I felt like I was accepted and I was part of the family. This is the completion of the conversion from Hootie into Darius the country singer. With the induction into the Opry, it's definitely complete now."

But Rucker hasn't completely abandoned Hootie & the Blowfish. When asked about the group's future last winter, Rucker told CBSNews.com, "We'll always be together. I don't think we'll ever break up totally. We're Hootie & the Blowfish...We'll make another record and do another tour someday. I don't know when, but it will happen. There's one more in us."

Rucker will be inducted into the Opry on Oct. 16. That show will air live on GAC.

  • CBS News Staff

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