Emily Curtis wasn't expecting to talk with one of South Carolina's most successful musicians on Christmas Day. Yet there the local singer-songwriter was at Liberty Tap Room & Grill in Mount Pleasant, strumming her acoustic guitar and offering her voice for a charity benefit concert when Darius Rucker came up to her.
Curtis knew in advance that Rucker, the country star and founding member of Hootie & the Blowfish, typically attended the charity event, which supports Windwood Farm, a group home for children in Awendaw. In past years, Rucker has helped draw the raffle tickets for the kids, making the process a little more organized and fun.
But this was the first year that live music was incorporated into the event, and Curtis had booked the gig last-minute. And she was very glad she did.
"(Rucker) had been watching a little bit throughout the event, but at the end before he left, he walked back to where I was playing," said Curtis.
Then, he put a $100 bill in her hand, shook her hand and said, "You're great."
Curtis seized the opportunity to thank Rucker and snap a quick picture with him.
"It meant a lot to me, because it showed his respect for the artists that are cutting their teeth," said Curtis. "It was just one of those great moments of affirmation to keep going."
Curtis, who is a full-time musician gigging around the Charleston area with both original and cover songs in her repertoire, had gotten a chance to meet Rucker before when she opened for Hootie & the Blowfish at the Charleston Music Hall in March. But that had been a passing encounter, while this moment, she said, was truly meaningful.
"He gets it," said Curtis.
Curtis posted her photo with Rucker on Facebook, along with the following text:
"When Jesus gives you a gift on his own birthday ... Thanks to Emmy and her team for putting on such an incredible event at Liberty Tap Room for local families and Windwood Farm Home!! It was an honor being the musical entertainment, this morning. Shout out to Darius Rucker for sticking around to listen (and for the tip). Merry Christmas everyone!!"