By Crystal Caviness
Daniels. Mere mention of the name conjures as many images as the
musician has Gold and Platinum albums on the wall - and that's
quite a few.
player. Unapologetic American patriot. High-energy entertainer.
Country artist. Legendary songwriter. Sincere and devout
Christian. Southern rocker. Gospel musician. Benevolent
humanitarian. International star.
and the music he makes with The Charlie Daniels Band have long
defied easy definition. Neither has his music fit into a neat
box with a tidy label.
always been a challenge for record label executives,"
Daniels said, laughing.
68-year-old North Carolina native credits many musical styles,
including early influences of Pentecostal hymns, local
bluegrass, R&B and Country Music for driving his creative
muse during a career now in its fifth decade.
spent a lot of time in clubs in the middle 50s through 1967 when
I came to Nashville and even after that, playing what happened
to be the popular music of the day. Before the radio
stations were so strictly formatted, popular music was Elvis,
Marty Robbins, B.B. King, Johnny Cash, Bill Haley and the
Comets, Carl Perkins - so many kinds of music of all formats and
they all made the charts together.
playing that and hearing it on the radio, I was exposed to so
many kinds of music - and then my background - when I got ready
to play original music, I just let it all kind of creep in. I
was very irreverent as far as musical styles."
lack of respect for singular genres may have caused headaches
for music business chiefs, but when his first album came out in
1971, the music transcended boundaries in a way that caused The
Charlie Daniels Band to be embraced by fans of many musical
songs "The Devil Went Down To Georgia," "The
South's Gonna Do It Again" and "Long Haired Country
Boy" made their way into the annals of music history,
Daniels and The CDB toured the world, creating a fan base that
still keeps them busy performing more than 100 shows a year.
the way, Daniels became an unofficial spokesman for the everyday
American man and woman by putting into songs his opinions and
concerns about politics, injustices and patriotism. "In
America," "Simple Man" and "This Ain't No
Rag, It's a Flag" became instant hits and garnered the
straight-talking Daniels much publicity for his unapologetic
has lent his talent and time to numerous charitable causes,
including hosting two annual golf tournaments. The Charlie
Daniels Celebrity Golf Classic & Angelus Concert - in its
14th year - in Hudson, Fla., benefits The Angelus, a full-time
residential facility and day school program for the severely
handicapped. The Charlie Daniels Golf Classic in Wichita, Kan.,
now in its 20th year, benefits Starkey, a non-profit
organization serving individuals with developmental
has been a longtime supporter of the T.J. Martell Foundation and
its many events supporting cancer research, charity work that
became very personal.
2001, Charlie and The CDB "rocked the house" at
Country in the Rockies, a ski and music event in Colorado
benefiting the T.J. Martell Foundation and the Vanderbilt-Ingram
Cancer Center (VICC) in Nashville.
that year, Daniels was struck with cancer and became a patient,
benefiting from the very research he was helping to fund.
January 2004, he returned to Country in the Rockies singing and
speaking from his heart about the work that made him
now sits on the VICC's Board of Overseers.
singer is also on the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
Professional Advisory Board. St. Jude Children's Research
Hospital is internationally recognized for it's pioneering work
in finding cures and saving children with cancer and other
catastrophic diseases. Founded by the late entertainer Danny
Thomas and based in Memphis, Tenn., the hospital freely shares
its discoveries with scientific and medical communities around
and awards fill two pages of Daniels' biography, with honors
ranging from CMA Awards to GRAMMYs to Dove Awards from the
Gospel Music Association. Daniels also won a Parents' Choice
Gold Award in 1997 for his By the Light of the Moon:
Campfire Songs and Cowboy Tunes children's album.
seemingly no musical challenge left to conquer, Daniels has
released his first bluegrass album, a collection of bluegrass
hymns titled Songs From The Longleaf Pines.
the recording is new for Daniels, the genre is not.
is the oldest genre I've dealt in. When I first started playing,
that's what I started with," Daniels said, adding that
Lester Flatt and Earl Scuggs were played on the local radio
shows he listened to as a teen.
of bluegrass' most famous names played on this project,
including Ricky Skaggs, Mac Wiseman, The GrooveGrass Boyz
(Ronnie & Rob McCoury and others) and Scruggs.
every musician understands bluegrass. ... You either get it or
you don't. ... There's an intangible there. I don't know how to
put it. It's a feel - when to come in, when to lay back. It's
not carved in stone, it's very innovative.
I certainly don't consider myself any kind of virtuoso, I am
thankful that I at least 'get it,'" Daniels said.
From The Longleaf Pines begins with Daniels reciting John
3:16 from the Bible before he and the musicians begin a
lively rendition of "Walking In Jerusalem."
with bluegrass versions of classics such as "I'll Fly
Away" and "How Great Thou Art," and other songs,
additional Bible verses are peppered throughout the
recording, a testimony to Daniels' faith walk.
don't want any confusion. I want people to know I am a
Christian. I am a believer," he said.
a new album on the shelves, Daniels already is planning another
musical project, one, he said, that can't be easily described.
next record is so different. ... I've already got about four
songs. I'm not in any hurry to do it. As the music comes to me,
as I write it and work it out with the band, I will record it.
If I mention a genre of music, it will mislead you. I've got
fill stuff, some guitar stuff."
project will be released on Daniels' own Blue Hat Records, a
label he started in 1997.
label's first project, Blues Hat, yielded a remake of
Daniels' "Long Haired Country Boy," with special
guests Hal Ketchum and John Berry, and earned a nomination for
CMA Vocal Event of the Year.
additional albums have followed from Blue Hat, bringing CDB fans
a plethora of music, including Christmas songs, a greatest hits
collection, a live album, Volunteer Jam performances and new
who says he does as he wants musically, is in a place he's
earned after more than 30 years on the road as a major recording
at that stage, I'm just totally into music. Basically what I'm
concerned with is getting down what I create," Daniels
said. "I chop the musical log and let the chips fall where
Charlie Daniels timeline
28, 1936: Charles E. Daniels is born in Wilmington, N.C.
Daniels co-writes "It Hurts Me," a song recorded by
Elvis Presley for the flip side of "Kissin' Cousins."
Daniels moves to Nashville to begin work as a session player.
Producers complain that Daniels plays too loudly. Later that
year, Daniels plays on Bob Dylan's Nashville Skyline.
"It was the first time I felt at home in Nashville. You
experienced a lot of freedom from Dylan," Daniels said of
Daniels records solo album Charlie Daniels on Capitol
Fire on the Mountain is released. Daniels invites
friends from the Allman Brothers Band, the Marshall Tucker Band
and others for a concert he calls the Volunteer Jam. They have
so much fun, Daniels said they should "do this once in a
The second Volunteer Jam is held in Murfreesboro, Tenn.
Volunteer Jam becomes an annual event.
"The Devil Went Down To Georgia" reaches No. 1 and
wins Daniels a GRAMMY and CMA Single of the Year Award. He wins
CMA Instrumentalist of the Year Award and CDB wins Instrumental
Group of the Year Award.
CDB hits the charts with "The Legend of Wooley Swamp."
They win CMA Instrumental Group of the Year Award.
Volunteer Jam plays its 13th concert and takes a break for a few
Volunteer Jam returns, with B.B. King, Steppenwolf, Tanya Tucker
and the CDB.
Daniels releases his first Christian record on Sparrow Records, The
Door, which earns him a Dove Award the following year.
Charlie Daniels: The Roots Remain box set is released.
Daniels is presented the honorary degree of doctor of letters
from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, where he
delivers the commencement address.
Daniels forms Blue Hat Records. Sony Wonder releases By The
Light Of The Moon: Campfire Songs and Cowboy Tunes,
Daniels' first children's album.
The Charlie Daniels Museum opens on historic Second Avenue in
Downtown Nashville. Daniels is inducted into his hometown's Walk
of Fame in Wilmington, N.C.
Daniels' book, Ain't No Rag (Freedom, Family and the Flag)
is published by Regnery Publishing.
the Web: www.charliedaniels.com
CMA Close Up News Service