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Charlie Daniels: 'Songs from the Longleaf Pines'

By Ginny McCabe
Special to ASSIST News Service Legendary musician, Charlie Daniels expresses his faith with a collection of well-known hymns in his latest effort, Songs From The Longleaf Pines, on Nashville-based Blue Hat/Koch Records.

“We just released a new album, Songs From The Longleaf Pines,” which can be characterized as a gospel/bluegrass collection,” Daniels said. “The new album reflects upon my strong belief in God and in our great country.”

Daniels admits he is known for a variety musical styles, including country, rock, bluegrass, blues and gospel, but with the release of his latest project, he said he’s drawn to his gospel and bluegrass roots.

"The first music I ever played seriously was bluegrass and I developed a deep and abiding love for this pure and honest music,” Daniels said.

"Songs From The Longleaf Pines"Songs From The Longleaf Pines features numerous guest performances with artists, including Ricky Skaggs, The Whites, Rob and Ronnie McCoury, Mac Wiseman and Earl Scruggs.

Some of the selections featured on the 13-song project include: “Fly Away,” “How Great Thou Art,” and “Softly and Tenderly.”

Born in 1936, he was raised on a musical background that included Pentecostal gospel, local bluegrass bands, as well as, rhythm and blues and country influences. In 1955, Daniels graduated from high school, and already skilled on guitar, mandolin, and fiddle, he formed a band and started playing concerts and touring.

Songs From The Longleaf Pines marks Daniels forty-five albums since his first self-titled recording, Charlie Daniels (Capitol), released in 1971. With numerous certified Gold and Platinum recordings, and Grammy awards under his belt, he said he continues to be himself and capture his own style through his musical endeavors.

His musical reputation is considered outstanding, and his resume includes recording sessions with artists as diverse as Bob Dylan, Flatt and Scruggs, Pete Seeger, Mark O'Conner, Leonard Cohen, Ringo Starr and Johnny Cash. His songs have also been recorded by Elvis Presley and Tammy Wynette.

“When it gets down to the nitty gritty, I've just tried to be who I am. I've never followed trends or fads. I couldn't even if I tried. I can't be them; I can't be anybody but me,” he shared.

Most people outside of Christian circles, probably know him best for his Grammy winning, 1979 hit, “Devil Went Down to Georgia,” from his Million Mile Reflections project, which went to number one and earned him a Grammy for Best Country Vocal.

While his credits have continued to pile up, Daniels said he remains down-to-earth, and continues to be a committed, hardworking musician. “You just take it a step at time, basically, is what you do,” he said. “You try to do what you feel is your best shot. I don't sit around and think about what might have been, or what was, I am pretty much a realist, as far as, what's going on.”

When he takes off his hat, and cowboy boots, Daniels is as genuine as they come. He doesn't even consider himself to be a legend.

“I don't look at myself like that. I am just looking at myself as a guy who God has really blessed tremendously. I don't look at myself as being anything special; better or worse than anybody else,” he mused. “I don't really see myself in that light. If other people catch me in that light, then that's them,” he shared.

Daniels said his Christian faith is a part of his every day lifestyle. “Your parameters change when you are a Christian, and everything goes through those parameters. You are conscious of trying to do the right thing, and you try to think about (what you do), and how is going to effect other people, and how it's going to effect you. Things become much more (clear and) your focal point on things comes (more from a Biblical perspective), especially moral things, they become a lot more clear and defined,” he shared.

He said he continues to write songs. He said that he is always coming up with new ideas from different places, and that he draws on a variety of experiences when he writes.

“There is just no telling. It may be whatever is on my mind, something that's going on in the country, or some frivolous little thing. There is no one set way. Songwriting is a God-given talent, and if you do it in a very serious way, you are very apt to write a song almost anytime,” Daniels expressed.

Daniels has a love for God, music and a great love for people, and he is one of the few artists’ who has successfully touched the lives of people everywhere.

“I think part of what makes my music so timeless, is that it's purely American music with something for everyone,” Daniels said. “At least that's what I've hoped for in my 40-plus years in music.”

Ginny McCabe is an entertainment and feature writer for The Middletown Journal and Journal News (dailies), and magazines including American Songwriter, Bassics, NRB Magazine, CBA Marketplace, Relevant Magazine, and others. Ginny has authored Audio Adrenaline's book, Some Kind of Journey on the Road with Audio Adrenaline and Living the Gold-Medal Life: Inspirations from Female Athletes. She most recently co-authored her third book, Changed: True Stories of Finding God Through Christian Music, which will be releases in April, 2005.

More from Assist New Service

Assist News Service is brought to you in part by Open Doors USA, a ministry that has served the Suffering Church around the world for nearly 50 years. You can get more information by logging onto their website at

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