Darius Rucker has had one of country music's most unconventional career trajectories, and it didn't start in the genre at all. Rucker's rise to fame began as the frontman of rock group Hootie & the Blowfish in the 1990s; after that, he recorded a solo R&B album that was released in 2002. However, as country fans know, later in the decade, he began his transition into a new -- and wildly successful -- career as a country solo artist.

Rucker's time in country music has included five studio albums, numerous accolades and awards for his projects and induction into the Grand Ole Opry. Among all of those honors and milestones, though, Rucker says he remembers the exact moment at which he felt like a part of the country music family. It wasn't his induction into the Opry that made the biggest impact on the star, but rather, the moment that happened right afterward.

"I will tell you the moment in my psyche and my soul that I felt accepted," Rucker told the Boot and other outlets at a recent media event, his voice deeply serious and emotional. "I had just finished being inducted into the Grand Ole Opry, and when that happens, everybody comes out. Everybody in town came out, and we were having a party afterward, for me.

"I'm walking offstage, and Little Jimmy Dickens comes over and grabs me by the hand," Rucker continues, "and says 'Don't you ever let them tell you you don't belong here.'

"That was the moment I belonged," he concludes. "That was the moment I was part of country music."

Himself a Grand Ole Opry member since November of 1948, Dickens passed away on Jan. 2, 2015. His last performance was on the Opry stage on Dec. 20, 2014, to celebrate his 94th birthday -- fitting, as he was a stalwart of the famed venue. From the age of 90 until his death, Dickens was the oldest living Grand Old Opry member.

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