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It was an event country music fans had been waiting for. After weeks of shock, pain and outright sadness over the Oct. 1 festival shooting in Las Vegas, we all gathered to watch the CMA Awards, hoping for a moment of reflection and a moment of healing in the arms of music.

And that’s exactly what Darius Rucker, Eric Church an other artists gave us on Nov. 8. First, Eric came out in darkness to sing a somber version of “Amazing Grace.” That was followed by an all-star cast that included Darius, Keith Urban and Lady Antebellum singing the Hootie and the Blowfish smash hit, “Hold My Hand.”

Emotionally, it hit all of us, but especially Darius himself.

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“I’m glad we rehearsed it as much as we did, because it was so very emotional,” Darius told Rare Country during a recent interview. “Eric did it so beautifully every time we rehearsed it, and then when he sang it live, I mean, it was hard to keep your emotions in check. Personally, for me, it was not only amazing but so apropos to go with ‘Hold my Hand’ after [‘Amazing Grace’]. I just thought it was beautiful.”

It was certainly a moment that will stand out for country fans, and a moment that had actually been planned for a while. “They called me a couple of months before and asked me if I would be willing to do it,” recalled Darius. “It was such a great thing, and when I actually saw it afterwards, I was just really moved. Here’s a song that I put out 25 years ago now being sung by country music royalty on the CMA Awards. It was such an amazing moment.”

Of course, the magical moments look to continue for Darius right through the remainder of 2017, as he will join fellow performers such as 98 Degrees, Fitz and the Tantrums, Fifth Harmony and Ciara on Christmas Day as part of the “Disney Parks Magical Christmas Celebration” special.

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But make no mistake, the best part of the holidays for Darius is spending it with those he loves the most.

“I love hanging out and cooking dinner and playing golf and just enjoying being with the family,” he told us. “The kids have grown up so much, and I am so proud of them. I love watching them do everything for the first time and, for them, it’s all about that technology. You know how kids are. [Laughs] I love being a dad. There are certain ages where you wish you can bottle them up and keep them there, but the favorite thing for me to do in the world is be a dad.”

And yes, even Darius agrees that everyone could use some Christmas this year.

“I think everyone needs some Christmas spirit and some Christmas cheer and some Christmas love,” he said. “Everyone needs the holidays right now.”

Tricia Despres is a senior correspondent for Rare Country, based out of Chicago. Join the conversation on Twitter at @RareCountry. We would love to see y’all there.
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