It was predestination, Darius Rucker said to the crowd at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center as he and two others were inducted into the South Carolina Hall of Fame on Friday.
“God kept telling me, I’ve got to come to this thing,” he said. “Every time there was an obstacle for me not to come, God just knocked it down. I looked around the room and really realized why it was, it’s all these kids and young adults that I see out there.”
Rucker wasn’t supposed to come to the induction ceremony. The announcements had been made that he wouldn’t be able to attend. A program had been printed listing his acceptance as a video to be played for the crowd.
But as the dignitaries filed into the room and took their seats on the stage, Rucker was the last in line taking the final seat.
Rucker spent years as that front man for Hootie & Blowfish as they grew from gigs at Pappy’s Bar in Columbia to standing-room-only amphitheaters around the country. The four-man band from South Carolina broke through with Cracked Rear View 25 years ago and the Grammy-winning band released several more albums.
More recently Rucker has made his own successful path in country music winning Grammys in the country category.
Through it all, Rucker has been giving back.
He supports the Medical University of South Carolina Children’s Hospital in Charleston. He raises money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. He and the other Hootie bandmates support hundreds of other charities through junior golf programs and with the Hootie & the Blowfish Foundation.
But on Friday, he simply wanted to offer a few words of encouragement.
“I’m you. I’m here to tell you guys that I’m you. I know it sounds so cliché, but I’m you. I grew up down the road from here,” he said of his Charleston upbringing. “Go be stars.”
In addition to Rucker, the South Carolina Hall of Fame inducted artist Leo Twiggs and the late educator Elizabeth Evelyn Wright.
Twiggs was born in St. Stephen and was graduated from Claflin University. He went on to earn a masters from New York University. He is the first African American to earn a doctorate in art education from the University of Georgia.
His nine paintings series, Requiem for Mother Emanuel, has received national acclaim.
Educator Wright had a brief but remarkable life having been born one of 21 siblings in 1872 in Georgia. She went on to study under Booker T. Washington at Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute.
After graduating in 1894, Wright tried several times to start schools in South Carolina. Three of her schools were burned down.
In 1897 she found Denmark, South Carolina, and a philanthropist Ralph Voorhees from New Jersey willing to donate $5,000 to buy land and build a high school for black students.
That school began a relationship with the Episcopal Church and it later became Voorhees College decades after Wright died at age 34 in 1906.
“We all stand on the shoulders of Elizabeth Evelyn Wright. Lizzie,” said W. Franklin Evans, Voorhees College president. “For if it wasn’t for her, where would we be?”
The hall of fame is located in the lobby of the Myrtle Beach Convention Center and it is free to the public. It includes portraits and historical facts about the inductees.
Of the nearly 100 members of the hall of fame, there are educators, authors, scientists, civil rights activists, doctors, a potter, astronauts, diplomats, soldiers, congressmen, senators, governors, coaches, bankers and patriots.
Local historic societies submit nominees to the hall of fame board of trustees annually.
The hall of fame is “funded by the state of South Carolina, the city of Myrtle Beach and the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce,” according to the South Carolina Hall of Fame web site.