Charlie Daniels visits MTSU for book signing of new memoir, ‘Never Look at the Empty Seats’

Photo and story by Daniel-Shaw Remeta / Contributing Writer 

Country Music Hall of Fame inductee Charlie Daniels visited MTSU’s Phillip’s Bookstore for a book-signing of his newly released book on Thursday. Eager fans waited in line inside the bookstore to get a moment with the legendary country and bluegrass star and to get a signed copy of his new book. 

His memoir, “Never Look at the Empty Seats,” tells the story of Daniels’ life and highlights many significant points in his career.  

“I just kept writing and writing, and I never could find a place to stop because my career goes on and on,” he said. “The day after I was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, I came home and wrote the ending.”

Daniels was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame on Oct. 16, 2016, in the Veteran’s Era category, and was honored with an exhibit, titled Million Mile Reflections. He received a Grammy for Best Country Vocal Performance in 1979 for his song, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” which is also his most successful song to date. Daniels was declared a “living legend” in 1999 by the Nashville Network, a country-music oriented cable network, and was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 2008.

Apart from playing music and interacting with fans, Daniels has had frequent philanthropic involvement in the state of Tennessee and the Murfreesboro community. His organization, The Journey Home Project, is a Nashville-based nonprofit that strives to make a difference in the lives of American veterans by helping meet their education, healthcare and employment needs.

“Our mission is to help our veterans reposition themselves back into civilian life after serving,” Daniels said.

The organization donated over $100,000 to MTSU’s Veterans and Military Family Center, which opened inside the Keathley University Center in November of 2015 and was named after Daniels and his wife, Hazel, in 2016. The center aims to assist current military, veterans and family members in the move from military to college and then from college to a successful career. The 2,600 square-foot center is the largest veterans center on any Tennessee higher education campus and also focuses on providing employment opportunities for student veterans and family members.  

“He did the Charlie Daniels Center here at MTSU, and it was a great idea because one of the number one things veterans want, going back to college, is sort of a veteran’s space,” said MTSU communication studies professor and Blue Raider American Veteran Organization sponsor Pat Richie. “Not only does he sign a check, but he comes to events on campus and is involved.”

Whether he is promoting his new book or helping the local community give back to veterans, Daniels seems to be among one of MTSU’s favorite campus visitors.  

“I’m just so excited to meet him,” said Hannah Watkins, a freshman and biology major. “I’ve never met him before, but I can’t wait to finally get the chance to.”

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