Country music legend Charley Pride took his last breath in Dallas fighting from Covid-19. Pride tested positive for the coronavirus a few days earlier but was unable to cope up with its complications. He was 86 years old. Charley Pride is popularly known as a trailblazer for Black artists in the country music industry.
Pride began singing in the 1960s and became famous for his single tracks such as “Is anybody goin’ to San Antone”, “Kiss an angel good mornin” and “I’d rather lover you”. From 1967 to 1987, Charley Pride had 52 top 10 hits of country music. He is also a recipient of various Grammy awards and also was coined as the top-selling country artist by RCA records.
Born and brought up in Sledge, Mississippi, Charley Pride’s father was a sharecropper. In their early teenage years, Charley Pride was a pitcher and an outfielder in the Negro American League, Memphis Red Sox, and Pioneer League in Montana.
After playing some minor baseball, he worked in a zinc smelting plant in Montana during the day. During the night time, he used to sing country music at bars and clubs. He got his first industry break by Chet Atkins, the then head of RCA records when Pride was in Nashville.
Race as a Barrier
Pride faced a lot of criticism during his music career. Since he was a negro, people in America didn’t treat him in a good way during those times. To ensure that he wasn’t judged on the basis of race, his first few single albums were out on radio stations without revealing his face. People loved his voice when his face was hidden. But when his identity got revealed, a lot of radio stations refused to play his songs.
However, Pride was never bothered by his race. He never felt ashamed of being a negro and rather carried himself with confidence. Pride always used to joke about his skin in front of a white audience and would call himself “permanently tanned”. Throughout his career, instead of singing sad songs, Charley Pride sang country music.
His last performance was at CMA Awards on November 11th, 2020. In 2008, he received the lifetime achievement award for excellence in arts by the Governor of Mississippi. Pride always used to consider music as the greatest communicator on earth. He believed music is the best way of expressing oneself.
Fans Mourn his Death
Mark Lewis from 96.3 radio, New Country said that each and every person in the country is currently mourning Charley’s death. He was a true trailblazer and did something no one could ever do. Jody Dean of Texas Radio Hall of Fame said that whenever he hears Charley’s name, the first word that comes to his mind is a gentleman. He also said that Charley had the capability of breaking the ice with his warmth.
Moreover, Charley Pride rose the levels of country music and provided it immense recognition. From where he started to where he came throughout his journey is commendable. Rather than flowers, Charley’s family has asked his fans to donate charities at school or food to the needy ones.
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