5 Questions is a series by Steve Duffy –
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, and still a road warrior at age 82, Daniels has parlayed his passion for music into a multi-platinum career and a platform to support the military, underprivileged children, and others in need. The Charlie Daniels Band has long populated radio with memorable hits and his signature song, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” He’s a staunch supporter of the military and lends his time and talent to numerous charitable organizations, including The Journey Home Project, that he founded in 2014 with his manager, David Corlew, to help veterans of the United States Armed Forces.
SD: What excites you most about still touring?
CD: The time of the night that I walk out on stage and start playing. I am in my element, it is one of the few times in my life that I feel like I know what I am doing. I don’t know what to do with a golf cub in my hand, but when I am on stage, I am home.
SD: With so many great songs, how do you go about picking your setlist for shows
CD: There are songs that you are obligated to play because that is what people come to hear. The audience wants to hear “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” “Long Haired Country Boy,” and “The Legend of Wooley Swamp.” I do a skeleton of those and then we build around them with some lesser-known or new songs. The whole bottom-line of the show is to entertain and make sure everyone is happy.
SD: “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” just celebrated 40 years. Did you think that this fiddle-centric song would be a big hit?
CD: It sure did! When we recorded it, I felt like it would be a good song for us. I knew it would get some air play and sell some albums but didn’t know that we would be sitting here 40 years later still taking about it. Many around the world may not know who I am, but they sure know the song.
SD: If you were not a musician, what would you be doing?
CD: I really don’t know. I didn’t prepare myself with any kinds of skills or seek any type of higher education. Once I learned three chords on the guitar, professional musician was all I ever wanted to be.
SD: What can you tell us about your charity “The Journey Home Project?”
CD: We started it to help our military folks who are transiting back into civilian life. That sounds like a very simple thing to those of us who have never had to do it. There are some unique needs for anyone coming out of service, especially those coming out of combat. There are a lot of immediate needs and slow answers and we try to fill in the gaps and make life easier for them. One of our big concerns right now is veteran suicide. Twenty-two veterans a day commit suicide and that is totally unacceptable and not enough is being done about it.