Sunday, 13 December 2020

Pioneer Black Superstar Country Singer, Charley Pride Dies From COVID-19 Complications At 86


Legendary country music songstress Dolly Parton tweeted, “I’m so heartbroken that one of my dearest and oldest friends, Charley Pride, has passed away. It’s even worse to know that he passed away from COVID-19. What a horrible, horrible virus. Charley, we will always love you.”

During the ’60s, many R&B performers moved into the country realm; most famously, Ray Charles enjoyed a smash hit with his No. 1 album “Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music.” But Pride was the first Black artist of the day to be signed and marketed by the country division of a major American label.

Though his first work was promoted by RCA without images that would divulge his race, Pride found his music quickly embraced by a Southern, white, working-class audience that found it could identify with the singer’s sharecropping roots and universal aspirations. His keen interpretation of deftly penned honky-tonk songs kept him at the top for nearly two decades. 

“He was the right singer at the right time in history. Pride definitely profited from the heightened mood of racial tolerance promoted in the United States by the civil rights movement and from the desires of the country music industry to improve its image and broaden its audience,” wrote country music historian Bill C. Malone of his remarkable success.

He is survived by his wife, Rozene; two sons; and a daughter.

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