Charley Pride, Pioneering Black Country Singer, Dead at 86

Charley Pride, the pioneering black country singer known for such hits as “Kiss an Angel Good Mornin’” and “Is Anybody Goin’ to San Antone,” has died from complications related to Covid-19, according to his publicist. He was 86.

Born in Sledge, Mississippi, in 1934, Pride picked cotton, played baseball in the Negro league, worked in a smelting plant in Montana, and served in the U.S. Army before becoming country music’s first black superstar. He scored 52 Top 10 country hits, including 29 Number Ones, and was the first African-American performer to appear on the Grand Ole Opry stage since Deford Bailey made his debut in the 1920s. Pride became an Opry member in 1993. In 2000, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

In a 2019 documentary about his life and career, Pride recalled performing a concert in Big Springs, Texas on April 4, 1968 — the date of Martin Luther King’s assassination. “I got onstage, nobody said nothin’,” Pride said. “They applauded, I got a standing ovation. I didn’t say nothin’ about nothin’ pertaining to what had happened. But it was hanging there, what had happened and me the only one there with these pigmentations. You don’t forget nothin’ like that.”

Just last month, Pride was honored by the Country Music Association with the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award. He performed on the telecast with country singer Jimmie Allen, recreating his 1971 chart-topper “Kiss an Angel Good Mornin’.” It would be Pride’s final performance.

This story is developing.

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