Charlie Daniels is one of country music's biggest stars. "The Devil Went Down To Georgia" is the song that first got me interested, and it's probably Charlie's best-known hit.

With his unique style of fiddle playing and song writing, Charlie has become a favorite with both fans and critics alike earning a Grammy Award and inductions into both the Country Music Hall Of Fame and the Grand Ole Opry. He has been in the music business for more than 60 years, and has worked with artists from Bob Dylan to Brad Paisley, and even Elvis Presley recorded one of Charlie's songs. At 82, Charlie has been many things: a session musician, producer, actor, author and uses his celebrity for causes in which he believes like Volunteer Jam.

Charlie recently performed at the American Music Theatre in Lancaster. He agreed to an interview before the show.

Rodeo: What is one life lesson everyone can learn from your book “Never Look At The Empty Seats”?

Charlie: The title is a retake on is the glass half full or half empty;. accentuate the positive type of thing. When you're a young musician, you're going to have empty seats because nobody knows who you are so you play to whoever is there. If you entertain the people who are there, you're not looking at the empty seats, you're looking at the full seats and act like the house is full every night, next time you go back to town; they'll probably come see you again and bring somebody else with them that's how you build a following. Work at it, stay with it believe in what you're doing.

Rodeo: How does it feel to be a member of both the Grand Ole Opry and The Country Music Hall Of Fame?

Charlie: It's like a dream come true. The night I was inducted into the Opry I was 71 years old. I didn't know if it was ever going to happen or not. It was a very deep desire of my heart to be a member of the Grand Ole Opry. I had played it many times as a guest but I had never been a member so it meant an awful lot to me. The Country Music Hall Of Fame just came out of the middle of nowhere. They only put three people a year in. I was literally flabbergasted by it. It was incredible.

Rodeo: You have inspired people to pick up a fiddle and play. What do you think of the importance of music education in our public schools?

Charlie: Music education appreciation is great. It takes a different sort of mindset to be a professional musician. If you're really serious about making it in the music business you've got to give up everything. You have to go where the business is. It can get awfully disgusting. People shut doors in your face and call you names and you have to be able to take all that. I think music education in school is very good.

Rodeo: Your legacy in country music is secure. When people think of Charlie Daniels, what would you like them to remember?

Charlie: I don't think that anybody deserves to be remembered for any more or any less than they are. We tend to magnify people in death a lot of times and make them a better person than they were and sometimes we go the other way with it. I guess I'll be perceived as whatever people perceive me being. I'm one thing to one person and another thing to another. Some people look at me as a fiddle player. Some people look at me as an entertainer. Some people look at me as an author. I've hosted television. I've done all kinds of things so it depends on what view you're looking at me from. If somebody could remember me as all those things I would love that it would be great.

After the interview, I went to the front of the house to get pictures of The Charlie Daniels Band in action during the concert. As the lights come down, every member of the band takes the stage and starts playing his instrument building up the anticipation of the audience. Then it happens. Charlie emerges in a cowboy hat holding his fiddle and the crowd goes crazy with applause. He seems to be taller than everyone else on the stage. Charlie moves a bow across his fiddle's strings. I'm amazed by his talent and the music I'm hearing.

The Charlie Daniels Band seems more like a family than a group of musicians. I know they are all very talented and it's difficult to play the way they do but they somehow make it look so easy. He gives the crowd hits they came out to see like "Simple Man" and includes gems from his early days for the fans who have been with him since the beginning.

For Charlie Daniels, it seems the show is about connecting with and entertaining the audience. He delivers from the first song to the last. As I walk out of the venue I realize that legends like Charlie have a way of making an impression long after the last note of music has been played!

To see Rodeo's complete interview with Charlie Daniels, visit

Rodeo would like to thank Paula Szeigis and Chris Klumpp for being super, awesome, and cool!

Kid reviewer Rodeo Marie Hanson 12, Fleetwood, contributes columns to Berks-Mont Newspapers.

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