Darius Rucker’s "CMA Fest" philosophy: "You got 25 minutes — all killer, no filler!"

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If you can’t wait to experience next Wednesday’s star-studded CMA Fest special on ABC, then you know exactly how Darius Rucker was feeling back in June as he prepared to take the stage at Nashville’s Nissan Stadium.

A decade into his career as a country hitmaker, everything about CMA Fest still excites the Hootie & the Blowfish frontman.

“It's the crowd that's amazing,” he says. “You know, all those country music fans out there -- that's awesome. They're just there to eat up the music, no matter what you play.”

Darius also finds the camaraderie with his country contemporaries pretty sweet.

“The part that really makes it special… is… I walked in here and looked up on the stage and saw Kane [Brown], and… I got chills,” he confesses. “This is the who's who of country music and you gotta go out there and you gotta be great, because the person before you and the person after you is probably gonna be pretty great.”

The “For the First Time” singer admits the caliber of talent can be intimidating.  “You got 25 minutes -- all killer, no filler! Go do what you got to do,” Darius quips.

Ultimately, the South Carolina native is all gratitude when it comes to CMA Fest.

“That's awesome to be a part of that and to be watching the other guys, and to get to go out and do what I do,” he reflects. “And it's just a great place to be doing the only thing I've ever wanted to do since I was a four-year-old kid. And I get to do it on a stage like this. It's pretty unbelievable.”

You can watch for Darius on this year’s three-hour CMA Fest special, starting at 8 p.m. ET Wednesday night on ABC.

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