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Charley Pride, Country Music’s First Black Superstar, Honored with Award

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Charley Pride, three-time GRAMMY® winner and Country Music Hall of Fame member, will be recognized for his numerous contributions to American music on November 1, 2019. The Mississippi native is the inaugural recipient of GRAMMY Museum®–Mississippi’s Crossroads of American Music Award.

“We are thrilled to recognize the great Charley Pride as the first-ever recipient of our Crossroads of American Music Award,” said Emily Havens, Executive Director of GRAMMY Museum Mississippi, in a press release. “As a native of Mississippi, Charley has had a significant impact on American music with his uncompromising honky-tonk country music. Charley broke new ground in the ’60s when he emerged as one of the most successful black Country artists at that time. It’s an honor to recognize Charley Pride as the inaugural recipient of our Crossroads of American Music Award.”

Charley Pride, Country Music's First Black Superstar, Honored with Award

Photo: Charley Pride

The Crossroads of American Music Award honors an artist for significant musical contributions. He will accept the award at the museum’s 2019 gala held November 1 at GRAMMY Museum Mississippi.

“I’m honored to be the first recipient of this award from the GRAMMY Museum Mississippi,” said Pride in a release. “And thankful to the many great American music artists before me that helped to pave the way for my success. I applaud the Museum for celebrating those artists and championing the importance of American music.”

Texas Also Claims Charley Pride

Charley Pride, Country Music's First Black Superstar, Honored with Award

Photo: Charley Pride

Texas also has a valid claim on Charley Pride. He and Rozene, his wife of 61 years, have called Dallas home since 1969. Pride also helped save the Texas Rangers baseball club in 2010 as part of an investment group spearheaded by Hall Of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan. They purchased the team in a federal bankruptcy auction just weeks before the Rangers appeared in the World Series for the first time.

Pride’s long history with the Texas Rangers includes working out with the team during spring training since the 1970s. Each February and March, he blocks off several weeks to work out with the team at their Arizona spring training facility. In 2008, Pride was drafted by the Rangers during Major League Baseball’s ceremonial Special Negro League Player Draft.

American Masters Encore Presentation

Charley Pride, Country Music's First Black Superstar, Honored with Award

Photo: Charley Pride

A special encore presentation of “American Masters – Charley Pride: I’m Just Me,” aired September 19 at 9 p.m. on PBS stations, coinciding with the premiere of Country Music. The eight-part, 16-hour film directed by Ken Burns also features many other musical legends. It will air again on PBS stations September 22-25 at 8-10 p.m.

The documentary traces his improbable journey from humble beginnings as a sharecropper’s son on a cotton farm in segregated Sledge, Mississippi. Outstanding athletic ability led to his all-star career as a Negro League baseball player. Then his musical talent led to a meteoric rise as a trailblazing country music superstar. The documentary reveals how a love for music led him from the Delta to a larger, grander world.

Breaking Country Music Color Barrier

Charley Pride, Country Music's First Black Superstar, Honored with Award

Photo: Charley Pride, Photo by Ben De Rienzo (c) 2011 Music City Records

Charley Pride’s career as a recording artist spans more than 50 years. He helped break color barriers when he became the country genre’s first black superstar. A true legend, his records have sold millions of copies throughout the world. His songs include 36 chart-toppers. “Kiss an Angel Good Morning” was a #1 crossover hit for him and sold more than a million singles. In 1971, the song propelled him to the Country Music Association’s “Entertainer of the Year” award and the “Top Male Vocalist” awards of 1971 and 1972.

In 1994, with the assistance of award-winning Texas journalist Jim Henderson, he wrote an autobiography. “Pride: The Charley Pride Story” covers the events of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s in significantly more depth. A proud member of the Grand Ole Opry since 1993, he continues to perform concerts worldwide. His latest album, Music in My Heart, was released in 2017 on Music City Records. For more information, visit CharleyPride.com.