Country Chatter

Charley Pride passes at 86 years old from complications of coronavirus

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Charley Pride, who was born a sharecropper’s son in rural Mississippi and rose to the become the first Black member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, died Saturday at age 86.

The “Kiss An Angel Good Mornin” singer died in Dallas, Texas, due to complications from COVID-19, on Saturday (Dec. 12).

Born on March 18, 1934 in Sledge, Mississippi, Pride first fell in love with country music as a youth when he would listen to the Grand Ole Opry. But his first attempt at success was in baseball and was a player in the Negro League at the age of 16.

Pride sang in clubs in his spare time but decided to make it a full-time profession after a failed tryout with the New York Mets.
 Pride arrived in Nashville in 1963 and was eventually signed to RCA Records in 1965 by country guitarist and record executive Chet Atkins.

His first single, 1967’s “Just Between You and Me,” climbed into the Top 10 on country charts and garnered Pride his first Grammy nomination.

From there, Pride started a career that spanned more than four decades. Between 1967 and 1987, Pride had more than 50 Top 10 country hits, won Grammy awards, and became RCA Records’ top-selling country artist.

Pride’s early singles were released without mention of his race or a photo of him.

“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.

Some of Pride’s biggest hits include “Is Anybody Goin’ to San Antone” and “Just Between You and Me.” In 1971. But, his recording of “Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'” became his biggest hit, reaching No. 1 on the country charts and crossing over to No. 21 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Pride was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 1993 and the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000.

His final public performance was on November 11 at the CMA Awards where he received the Country Music Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He performed “Kiss An Angel Good Mornin'” with Jimmie Allen at the event (watch video below).

Pride is survived by his wife, Ebby Rozene Cohran Pride, three children, five grandchildren and two grandchildren.

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