DALLAS (WKRN) – County music legend and Hall of Famer Charley Pride has died in Dallas at the age of 86 due to complications from COVID-19, according to a press release.
Pride’s last performance came on Nov. 11, 2020 at the CMA Awards in Nashville where he sang one of his most famous songs, “Kiss An Angel Good Mornin'”.
Pride was born a sharecropper’s son in Sledge, MS on March 18, 1934.
He was a gifted athlete who at first thought baseball would be his escape from poverty, labor and conflict. However, his musical talent was more impressive than his skills on the baseball diamond as he emerged as one of the most significant artists at RCA Records.
Pride had chart-topping hits including “Kiss An Angel Good Mornin’,” “Is Anybody Goin’ to San Antone,” and “Mountain of Love.” His first single, “Snakes Crawl at Night,” was released in January 1966.
From 1967 to 1987, Pride achieved 52 Top 10 country hits, won several Grammy awards and became RCA Records’ top-selling country artist.
He won the Country Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year award in 1971 and the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2020 at the CMA Awards.
He was also the first Black member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.
“Charley Pride entered the spotlight in the mid-1960s. He became country music’s first Black superstar, in a time of dissension, rancor, and disconnection. With a voice for the ages, he fostered understanding, inclusion, and connection,” said Kyle Young, CEO of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. “He became one of the greatest artists in American music history, expanding country music’s audience with his boundless enthusiasm and his masterful vocal tone and phrasing. He is among country music’s most beloved and respected figures, and he found self-expression to be the most crucial political statement. In his autobiography, contemplating his role as a trailblazer and a civil rights pioneer, he wrote, ‘My decision was to sing.’ What a singer. What a legend. What a man.”
Black country artists Jimmie Allen, Darius Rucker, Mickey Guyton, Rissi Palmer, Rhiannon Giddens, Yola, and others are adding new chapters to country music’s long, never-ending story.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations to The Pride Scholarship at Jesuit College Preparatory School, St. Phillips School and Community Center, The Food Bank or the charity of your choice.
“No person of color had ever done what he has done,” said Darius Rucker, a fellow Black country musician, in the PBS American Masters film “Charley Pride: I’m Just Me.”
He is survived by three children, five grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, four siblings, and numerous nieces and nephews.