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Charley Pride is one of the few black country musicians to have had considerable success in the largely white country music industry, and was the first black musician to perform at the Grand Ole Opry.
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Born in Mississippi in 1938, Charley Pride is one of the few black country musicians to have enjoyed considerable success in the mostly white industry. During his 20s, he played baseball for the Negro American League, but moved over to music in 1966 when he was signed by RCA. Pride was the first black musician to perform at the Grand Ole Opry. His hit songs include "Is Anybody Goin' to San Antone" and "Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'."
"The tastes of country music fans are not limited to the narrow range defined by consultants and programmers and record company moguls."
"What we don't need in country music is divisiveness, public criticism of each other, and some arbitrary judgement of what belongs and what doesn't."
Legendary country musician Charley Pride was born on March 18, 1938, in Sledge, Mississippi. Pride was one of 11 children. His parents, who were poor sharecroppers, had named their son "Charl Frank Pride," but due to an error on his birth certificate, his legal name became Charley Frank Pride.
Pride taught himself to play guitar in his early teens, but his dream was to become a professional baseball player. In 1952, he was selected to join the Negro American League, pitching for the Memphis Red Sox, Louisville Clippers, Boise Yankees and Birmingham Black Barons. While he traveled from game to game, Pride often sang and played guitar on the team bus.
On a trip to Nashville, Pride met Jack Johnson, who promised the musician a management contract. A year later, Pride returned to the city to record a demo, featuring the singles "The Snakes Crawl at Night" and "Atlantic Coastal Line." The recording made it to RCA Records head Chet Atkins, who immediately signed him to the label. Pride officially released "Snakes Crawl at Night"—his first single—January 1966.
It was his third single, "Just Between You and Me," that launched Pride to stardom, reaching No. 9 on the U.S. country charts and he won a Grammy Award for the song the following year. Following his win, Pride had his first No. 1 hit with "All I Have to Offer" (1969). The recognition led to a long and auspicious career for Pride, making him the first African-American superstar in country music. His later hits include "Is Anybody Goin' to San Antone" (1970) and "Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'" (1971).
Over the next 30 years, Pride recorded 36 No. 1 hits and watched four albums go platinum. He has also been listed among the Top 20 best-selling country artists of all-time, and is second in sales only to Elvis Presley.
On May 1, 1993, Charley Pride was invited to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry—becoming the first African American inductee of the stage show. The following year, he published his autobiography, Pride: The Charley Pride Story, and was given the Pioneer Award by the Academy of Country Music. In July 1999, Pride received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He went on to receive country music's highest honor on October 4, 2000: induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Pride currently resides in Dallas, Texas, with his wife, Rozene. The couple has three children: Kraig, Dion and Angela.
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