Pride, Charley

Pride, Charley (Charley Frank Pride), 1934–2020, American country singer, the first African-American country-music superstar, b. Sledge, Miss. He initially sought success as a baseball pitcher, playing in the Negro and minor leagues, and also served in the army before he began singing in local bars in Helena, Montana, where he worked in a lead smelter. In 1966, Chet Atkins convinced RCA to record him, and his single Just between You and Me (1966) soon reached number 10 on the country charts. The first advertisements for the singer did not feature his photograph, and many country fans thought that Pride was white. The number-one singles All I Have to Offer You Is Me (1969) and Is Anybody Goin' to San Antone (1970) followed, and in 1971 Kiss an Angel Good Mornin' topped the country charts and reached the Top 40 on the pop charts. His warm, resonant baritone and mostly upbeat and positive songs contributed to his popularity; he had 30 number-one country singles and 12 gold albums. In 1993 he joined the Grand Ole Opry, the first African American to do so since harmonica player DeFord Bailey left in 1941.

See his autobiography (with J. Henderson, 1994).

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