Interview With Charlie Daniels

Sofa King Cool Caught up with Charlie Daniels an we talked about his 10 year anniversary with The Grand Ole Opry, Touring, Picking out a setlist, not retiring, leaving politics off the stage, his new album MEMORIES, MEMOIRS & MILES: SONGS OF A LIFETIME and Memoir Never Look At The Empty Seats , and how even if don’t know who Charlie Daniels Is, you have heard A Devil Went Down To Georgia


From his Dove Award winning gospel albums to his genre-defining Southern rock anthems and his CMA Award-winning country hits, few artists have left a more indelible mark on America’s musical landscape than Charlie Daniels.  An outspoken patriot, beloved mentor to young artists and still a road warrior at age 81, Charlie has parlayed his passion for music into a multi-platinum career and a platform to support the military, underprivileged children and others in need.

Raised among the longleaf pines of North Carolina, Charlie began his career playing bluegrass music with the Misty Mountain Boys.  After moving to Nashville in 1967, he began making a name for himself as a songwriter, session musician and producer.  Elvis Presley recorded a tune Charlie co-wrote titled “It Hurts Me,” which was released on the flip side of “Kissin’ Cousins.”  He played on such landmark albums as Bob Dylan’s Nashville Skyline and tried his hand at producing on the Youngbloods’ Elephant Mountain and Ride the Wind.

His own unique voice as an artist emerged as Charlie recorded his self-titled solo album in 1970 for Capitol Records.  Two years later he formed the Charlie Daniels Band and the group scored its first hit with the top ten “Uneasy Rider.”  Since then the CDB has populated radio with such memorable hits as “Long Haired Country Boy,” “The South’s Gonna Do It Again,” “In America,” “The Legend of Wooley Swamp” and of course, his signature song, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” which won a Grammy for Best Country Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group in 1979 as well as single of the year at the Country Music Association Awards.

The CDB will perform 100 concert dates this year including performances on the Grand Ole Opry.    The band’s latest release, “Off the Grid – Doin’ It Dylan,” features 10 Bob Dylan songs by the CDB, and is their first CDB studio release since 2007.

“I love what I do,” says Charlie of his 50-plus years in the music business.  “I look forward to entertaining people.  When show time gets here, I’m ready to go, ready to go play for them.  It’s a labor of love.  I just thank God I make a living at what I enjoy doing.”-2-

Whether performing in the hit 80s movie Urban Cowboy, singing on Easter Sunday at his local church or leading an all-star cast at one of his famed Volunteer Jams, Charlie just exudes joy whenever he steps on stage and he’s always been quick to provide a platform for other artists to shine.  In 1974 he invited some friends to join him at Nashville’s War Memorial Auditorium for an all-star concert he dubbed The Volunteer Jam.  The event continued for years and was broadcast in the U.S. and internationally.  Over the years, the Jam featured a diverse line up that included Willie Nelson, Ted Nugent, Roy Acuff, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Crystal Gayle, James Brown, Emmylou Harris, Amy Grant, George Thorogood, Kris Kristofferson, Little Richard, Tammy Wynette, Alabama, Oak Ridge Boys, B. B. King and the Allman Brothers.

As diverse as his live shows have always been, his discography has also reflected Charlie’s love of multiple genres.  In 1994 he released his first Christian album, The Door, on Sparrow Records.  The album won the Gospel Music Association’s Dove Award for Best Country Album and “Two Out of Three” was named video of the year by the Christian Country Music Association.  In 1997, Sony Wonder released Charlie’s first children’s album, “By The Light of The Moon: Campfire Songs and Cowboy Tunes’.

An astute businessman as well as talented musician, Charlie launched Blue Hat Records in 1997 with his longtime personal manager David Corlew.  Over the past 15 years, the label has released such memorable albums as Blues Hat, Tailgate Party, Road Dogs, Fiddle Fire: 25 Years of the Charlie Daniels Band and his first bluegrass album 2005’s Songs From the Longleaf Pines and 2007’s album Deuces, featuring duets with Brad Paisley, Gretchen Wilson, Bonnie Bramlett, Travis Tritt, Dolly Parton, Vince Gill, Brenda Lee and Darius Rucker.

Over the course of his career, Charlie has received numerous accolades, including induction into the Grand Ole Opry and Musicians Hall of Fame.  He’s been presented the Pioneer Award by the Academy of Country Music and was honored as a BMI Icon in recognition of his songwriting.  He’s received a star on the Music City Walk of Fame.

Any conversation with the legendary artist, however, rarely includes any of his accomplishments.  He’d rather shine the spotlight on the many causes that are close to his heart.  He’s always been a staunch supporter of the military, and for the past several years has headlined a special concert at David Lipscomb University benefiting the Yellow Ribbon Program which provides scholarships for veterans. Each year there are surprise guests in addition to the announced line up.  Among those who have supported Charlie Daniels for an evening of great music include Luke Bryan, Kellie Pickler, Clint Black, Jason Aldean, Chris Young, Rascal Flatts, Lee Greenwood, Darryl Worley, the Grascals, and actor Gary Sinise.

Charlie also lends his time and talent to numerous other charitable organizations, including the Jason Foundation Golf Classic, an organization that targets teen suicide prevention, and the Galilean Children’s Home in Liberty, KY, which provides a home for abused and neglected children.  “I’ve been affiliated with them for a long, long time and it’s just a great place,” Charlie says of the home founded by Jerry and Sandy Tucker.  “They take in babies whose mothers are going to prison.  They give kids a good stable Christian home and love them.  It’s just a wonderful place.”

Charlie has been the host for The Charlie Daniels Celebrity Golf Classic & Angelus Concert in Hudson, FL, a benefit for The Angelus, a full-time residential facility and day school program for the severely handicapped. He has been a member of the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Professional Advisory Board and has been a longtime supporter of the T. J. Martell Foundation and its numerous events aiding cancer research.  He has also been the headliner many years for the Christmas 4 Kids concert at the Ryman Auditorium, a fundraiser to provide a happy holiday for needy children.

In 2014, Charlie Daniels with David Corlew and Joe & Mercedez Longever founded The Journey Home Project,  a 501(c)(3) non-profit co-founded by Daniels and manager, David Corlew, to help Veterans of the United States Armed Forces.

The Charlie Daniels 40th Anniversary Volunteer Jam concert took place on Aug., 12, 2015, before a sold out crowd, raising over $300,000 for The Journey Home Project. “It was good to see an old Tennessee Tradition come back to life, all for this great cause,” Daniels said.

In August 2016, Charlie Daniels new album, Night Hawk, will be released.  Daniels has never fit into any certain label, purposely creating a sound and blend of music all his own.  The new album stays true to that tradition with a unique spin on cowboy songs both well known and uncovered from through the years.

The album comes in the midst of one of the most important years of Charlie Daniels’ career.  In early 2016 it was announced that he would become the newest inductee to the Country Music Hall of Fame, along with Randy Travis and Fred Foster.  The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum announced that an exhibit in his honor, called Million Mile Reflections, would be set to open September 23.  Adding to Daniels’ exciting year, Kid Rock, Chris Stapleton, Travis Tritt, Larry the Cable Guy and more will join Charlie in celebration at his 80th Birthday Volunteer Jam on November 30 at Bridgestone Arena.  A portion of the proceeds from this year’s Volunteer Jam will go to the The Journey Home Project.

Charlie says of using his celebrity status to aid worthy causes,   “I have a very unique opportunity because of being in the music community, you try to give back to some extent.  I do feel like people should.  We should all do as much as we can.”

Never Look At The Empty Seats, Charlie Daniels Memoir, released Oct .24, 2017. The book includes stories about his life, his career, experiences along the way and a wee bit of advice to those who would like to pursue a career in music. Daniels legendary musical career of over 60 years, won him a Grammy Award, earned inductions into the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame, and sold over 20 million records.

Memories, Memoirs & Miles – Songs of A Lifetime-Charlie Daniels new cd released, Oct. 20th, chronicles the musical journey of the Country Music Hall of Fame member through the years.  In his soon to be released book, an autobiography / memoir of his life, Charlie writes about his earliest musical influences starting with Bluegrass, then came his days of playing the clubs and honing his craft, entertaining! He then moved to Nashville where he was introduced to session work, playing on three Bob Dylan albums, NASHVILLE SKYLINE, SELF PORTRAIT and NEW MORNING.  Then came the CDB years, through Southern Rock and Country, Gospel and Patriotic hits.  This album is perfect for listening along while reading his book, “Never Look At The Empty Seats” in which Charlie presents a life lesson for all of us regardless of profession:
“Walk on stage with a positive attitude. Your troubles are your own and are not included in the ticket price. Some nights you have more to give than others, but put it all out there every show. You’re concerned with the people who showed up, not the ones who didn’t. So always give them a show, and never look at the empty seats!”

In 2016, Charlie experienced one of the most important years of his career.
Country Music Hall of Fame:  On Oct. 16th, Charlie became one of the newest inductees into the Country Music Hall of Fame, along with Randy Travis and Fred Foster.

Million Mile Reflections Exhibit, The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum honored the legend with an exhibit appropriately called Million Mile Reflections.

Charlie celebrated his 80th birthday on Oct. 28, 2016.
Volunteer Jam 80, added to Daniels’ exciting year, 3 Doors Down, Luke Bryan, Kid Rock, Chris Stapleton, Travis Tritt, Larry the Cable Guy + more joined Charlie for a SOLD OUT celebration of his 80th on November 30th at Bridgestone Arena for Volunteer Jam 80.

A portion of the proceeds from the Volunteer Jam were donated to the The Journey Home Project, a Nashville-based 501(c)3 non-profit organization, that was founded by Daniels to make a difference in the lives of American veterans by helping to meet their education, healthcare and employment needs.

The CDB will perform over 110 concerts in 2018, including concerts & performances on the Grand Ole Opry. The CDB has no signs of slowing down.

Hosted by Storme Warren, the all-star concert took place at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee March 7, 2018.

Just hours before entertainers such as Alabama, Alison Krauss, Billy Gibbons, Chris Young, Lynyrd Skynyrd, the man of the hour, Charlie Daniels and many more took the stage, Rolling Stone noted, “there really is no better showcase for Charlie Daniels or his namesake Band than the Volunteer Jam, the musical carnival that Daniels has kept going since its inception in 1974… The Volunteer Jam didn’t merely become an institution, it reflected how Charlie Daniels thought about his music.”

With a killer ensemble and set list of over 30 songs – from Jamey Johnson’s take on Daniels’ “Long Haired Country Boy” to Skynryd’s performance of “Sweet Home Alabama” to Devon Allman, Duane Betts and Chuck Leavell’s once-in-a-lifetime collaboration on “Midnight Rider” to, of course, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” a packed Bridgestone Arena witnessed over four hours of incredible music continuing the Jam’s legacy.

GRAMMY® Award Winner Don Was served as music director, over a stellar house band that featured Chuck Leavell at this unforgettable concert event.

AXS TV filmed the concert event for a primetime broadcast special this summer.

A portion of the proceeds from 2018’s Volunteer Jam will be donated to The Journey Home Project, a 501(c)(3) non-profit co-founded by Daniels and manager David Corlew to help Veterans.

Daniels was inducted into the Opry family in 2008 by his longtime friends and Opry members Marty Stuart and Connie Smith and recently celebrated the milestone with an appearance on the Opry on April 10, 2018, at the Grand Ole Opry House.

On his induction night 10 years ago, Daniels proclaimed, “My Bible tells me God gives us the desires of our hearts, and tonight the promise has come true.” The Opry member then invited Stuart, Smith, Montgomery Gentry and Trace Adkins to join him on stage to perform the iconic “Will The Circle Be Unbroken.”