Country Music Legend, Charley Pride, Dies At 86

DALLAS, Texas. — Charley Pride, whose rich baritone voice and impeccable song-sense altered American culture, died Saturday, December 12, 2020, in Dallas, Texas of complications from Covid-19 at age 86.

Born a sharecropper’s son in Sledge, Mississippi, on March 18, 1934, Pride emerged from Southern cotton fields to become country music’s first Black superstar and the first Black member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.

“No person of color had ever done what he has done,” said Darius Rucker in the PBS American Masters film Charley Pride: I’m Just Me.

Pride was a gifted athlete who at first thought baseball would be his path from poverty, labor, and strife. But his musical acumen was more impressive than his pitching arm or his hitting skills, and he emerged as one of the most significant artists at RCA Records, with chart-topping hits including “Kiss An Angel Good Mornin’,” “Is Anybody Goin’ to San Antone,” and “Mountain of Love.” He won the Country Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year award in 1971, its top male vocalist prize in 1971 and 1972, and a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2020.

His final performance came on November 11, 2020, when he sang “Kiss An Angel Good Mornin’” during the CMA Awards show at Nashville’s Music City Center with Jimmie Allen, a modern-day hitmaker who counts Pride among his heroes.

Charley Frank Pride was not the first Black artist to make important contributions to country music — DeFord Bailey was a star of the Grand Ole Opry from 1927 through 1941 — but Pride was a trailblazer who emerged during a time of division and rancor.

After a stint in the Army, time working at a Missouri smelting plant, and some unsuccessful attempts to break into big-league baseball, he came to Nashville in 1963 and made demonstration recordings with help from manager Jack Johnson.

Those recordings languished for two years until Johnson met with producer Jack Clement, who offered songs for Pride to learn. On August 16, 1965, Clement produced Pride at RCA Studio B, and the results of that session impressed RCA’s Chet Atkins, who signed Pride to a recording contract.

In 1967, Pride’s recording of Clement’s “Just Between You and Me” broke into country’s Top Ten, and Pride quit his job as a smelter. Iron ore was behind him, and platinum records lay ahead.

Between 1967 and 1987, Pride delivered 52 Top 10 country hits, won Grammy awards, and became RCA Records’ top-selling country artist. His musicality opened minds and superseded prejudice.

“We’re not color blind yet, but we’ve advanced a few paces along the path and I like to think I’ve contributed something to that process,” Pride wrote in his memoir.

Today, Black artists including Allen, Rucker, Mickey Guyton, Rissi Palmer, Rhiannon Giddens, Yola, and others add new chapters to country music’s story. Charley Pride’s impact is evident and important to all of them, and also to every other country performer who builds bridges with melody and sincerity.

Charley Pride escaped the cotton fields, where labor hurt his hands, back, and knees. He transcended and ascended through connection. Through fortitude and artistry, he became a member of the Grand Ole Opry and a beloved American icon.

Charley Pride was the son of Tessie Stewart Pride and Mack Pride, Sr. He was the husband of Ebby Rozene Cohran Pride. His children are Carlton Kraig Pride, Charles Dion Pride, and Angela Rozene Pride. His grandchildren are Carlton Kraig Pride, Jr., Malachi Pride, Syler Pride, Ebby Pride, and Arrentino Vassar. His two great-grandchildren are Skyler Pride and Carlton Kraig Pride, III. he is preceded in death by brothers Jonas McIntyre, Mack Pride, Jr., Louis Pride, Edward Pride, and Joe L. Pride, and by sister Bessie Chambers. He leaves behind siblings Harmon Pride, Stephen Pride, Catherine Sanders, and Maxine Pride, as well as numerous nieces and nephews.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations to The Pride Scholarship at Jesuit College Preparatory School, St. Philips School and Community Center, The Food Bank, or the charity of your choice.

Photo Credit: Joseph Llanes

Stagecoach 2019: Weekend in Review

Another year of Stagecoach has come and gone… and MAN, what a weekend!  Earlier today, I was telling a colleague that there simply aren’t enough hours in the weekend, to do/see EVERYTHING during Stagecoach, but we tried.

The following is a brief list of some of the activities, events or moments in which we participated, experienced and/or witnessed.  Over the next few weeks we will cover many of the artists, events and happenings that transpired during Stagecoach, but in the meantime, here is a brief glimpse as to what to expect.

Young Artists at Stagecoach–  Youth was definitly on full display this year at Stagecoach with artists like Abby Anderson (22), Danielle Bradbery (22), Lauren Alaina (24) and Kane Brown (25) showcasing their incredible talents.  These twenty somethings are up and coming stars, that thrilled festival attendees with their lyrics, and performances.  Everyone I spoke with, who saw these four perform, raved about their energy and showmanship and those that missed them, were kicking themselves for missing out on the experience.  Be on the lookout for these youthful artists, they’ll be coming to a town near you, very soon.

Boots On Stage–  At a secluded hotel in La Quinta, CA, a very private pool party took place, which featured a performance by Chase Bryant; DJBadAsh spinning on the turntables, supermodel Jessica Vaugn, several NFL players and Hollywood A-listers in attendance.  For the past two years, Boots on Stage has hosted or collablorated on the biggest party during Stagecoach weekend… this year was no different.  The pool party was the perfect way to start off your Saturday and the Neon Carnival was the best way to end it… Boots on Stage had their hand in both events!

Neon Carnival–  Easily the best party to attend during Coachella AND during Stagecoach!  Look it up on IG, YouTube, etc.  If you can attend… GO!  It started at 10pm and ended around 4am.  DeeJay Silver and DJ Rukus kept the people dancing all night and morning long!

Shallow–  Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga’s song from “A Star is Born” was played and  performed throughout the weekend.  Danielle Bradbery performed it during her phenomenal set, but Jimmie Allen and Abby Anderson performed our favorite version, during Jimmie Allen’s set, on Sunday.  If you haven’t had the opportunity to listen to their rendition, stop reading, listen to it and come back.  We promise, you won’t regret it.

Photo-op with a Living Legend–  Bret Michaels of Bret Michaels Band, stopped by the media tent and media professionals (myself included) reverted back to their 13 year old selves and went completely fanboy/girl!!!  Bret Michaels sat and did interviews, shook hands, posed for pictures and made everyone’s day.  He was kind enough to take a photo with me and thanked me for covering his performance.  What a LEGEND!

RV Resort–  This is the place to be if you want to get the full Stagecoach experience.  Line dancing, drinking games, above ground pools and scantily clad men & women.  This place is next level fun!

Sam Hunt’s Bodyguard–  This is one of the coolest stories I came across during the weekend.  Through a mutual friend, I met Sam Hunt’s bodyguard.  A young, cool, mellow, former Green Beret, former UFC fighter, Sam Hunt’s brother-in-law and his current bodyguard.  He’s a great guy, who served his country and has plenty of stories to share from the many phases of his life.

Be sure to stop by weekly for a new story from the best weekend in the Coachella Valley, Stagecoach weekend!

 

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