Charleston native and country music star Darius Rucker is headlining in a new home renovation TV show that’s backed by South Carolina’s tourism department and will address the Holy City’s role in slavery.
The Design Network’s “Rucker’s Reno” will be widely available later this month and will follow the solo artist and Hootie & the Blowfish frontman while he “revives” a historic mansion on Broad Street.
Along with following the restoration and redesign of the home, the six-part series is showcasing local attractions. Rucker meets up with “local chefs, entrepreneurs, fishermen and friends” on the show and takes part in outdoor activities. Rucker will be viewers’ “private guide to Charleston,” according to an announcement from the Design Network.
The streaming network also said the show “stares history in the face” and addresses the history of slavery in Charleston.
Rucker told Architectural Digest that the project was all about taking the pre-Civil War-era home, “something that was once a painful reminder of that history,” and turning it into “someplace that people who look like me can be really proud of.”
“I’m a guy who likes stories, and I can’t wait to tell this one,” Rucker said in the trailer for the series, which features Betsy Berry of B. Berry Interiors and local architect Neil Stevenson.
The trailer also shows an aerial view of the expansive residence at 119 Broad St. The Catholic Diocese of Charleston sold it to a group that included Rucker nearly four years ago. Known as the Morton-Waring House, the property was built around 1803, according to the Charleston Museum. The marble facade was added in the early 1900s.
The home, which is across the street from the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, changed hands in 2018 when it fetched the full list price of $6.5 million. The buyer was a newly formed entity called McCuru Properties LLC. Rucker’s role in the company wasn’t disclosed at the time of the sale.
“I think this house is going to be really inspirational because of where it is, because of what it is,” he said in the trailer.
Rucker isn’t new to projects that highlight his home state.
Slightly more than two years ago, the S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism tapped the singer to be a tourism ambassador to help attract travelers, but the COVID-19 pandemic delayed some plans for working with the star.
Rucker’s status as an “official ambassador” was announced in early 2020, at the Governor’s Conference on Tourism and Travel. Rucker made a surprise appearance at the event and performed seven of his hits. Between tunes, Rucker told the room that he was “honored to promote the state he loves more than anything.”
A photograph of Rucker with a guitar was on the cover of all of South Carolina’s new tourism booklets for that year, and the tourism department laid out plans to feature him in other promotions and to have the singer appear at major tourism events throughout that year.
State tourism director Duane Parrish had praised the fact that Rucker was not only from South Carolina but still lives here.
“He’s been promoting South Carolina onstage for years,” Parrish said after the 2020 announcement. “We’re just formalizing it.”
The pandemic brought the state’s travel sector to a near standstill just weeks after Rucker was announced as an ambassador. Initially, the deal was for the 2020 calendar year, but the singer continued to work with the state beyond that.
Discover South Carolina is the presenting sponsor of “Rucker’s Reno” and spent $500,000 in marketing dollars on the program.
Opening and closing title cards of each episode will say the show is presented by Discover South Carolina, and South Carolina tourism will be highlighted in social posts and other promotional materials.
“As a tourism ambassador for South Carolina, this was a unique opportunity to partner with Darius and highlight the Lowcountry as a destination,” SCPRT said in a statement.
The agency worked with the show’s producers to feature popular activities like golfing, fishing and boating and helped to schedule meetings for the show between Rucker and prominent Charleston locals like sweetgrass artisan Corey Alston, artist Jonathan Greene, Bill Hall of the Charleston Tea Garden and Lisa Anderson at the John Rutledge House Inn.
The series makes its debut on the Design Network May 30 at 8 p.m. It was made available exclusively on the streaming platform Samsung TV Plus earlier this week.
Rucker made another recent tourism-boosting announcement last month. He rolled out plans for “Riverfront Revival,” a two-day music festival to be held at North Charleston’s Riverfront Park. Described by Rucker as a “bucket list dream,” the Oct. 8-9 event will feature 18 acts, including Rucker.