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Charley Frank Pride (born March 18, 1938 in Sledge, Mississippi) is a former Negro League baseball player who became one of the only African Americans to have a successful career in modern country music.
Pride was one of eleven children born to desperately poor sharecroppers. His father named him Charl Frank Pride, but due to a typing error on his birth certificate, he was legally born as Charley Frank Pride. He grew up dreaming of being a baseball player and met his future wife, Rozene, while playing for the Memphis Red Sox in Memphis, Tennessee (which was a Negro-American League team).
Pride played guitar and sang while touring as a baseball player.In 1958 when he was in Memphis, Charley Pride visited Sun Studio and recorded some songs. One song has survived on tape, released in England on an lp-box. The song is a slow stroll in walking tempo called "Walkin (the stroll)"
Early music success
When it became clear that he would not become a Major League Baseball player, he turned to music as a full time career. He was introduced to producer Jack Clement, who gave him two songs to record, "Snakes Crawl at Night" and "Atlantic Coastal Line." Clement gave Pride’s two-song demo to the head of RCA Records in Nashville, Chet Atkins, who signed him to the label. Atkins and Clement considered not disclosing that he was black until the records were established, but Atkins decided that it was unfair to all concerned. Pride’s first single was broadcast in January 1966. Within a short period of time, both songs became hits.
Pride has garnered more than 36 number one country singles and sold over 70 million records (singles, albums, compilation inclusions). His fame is world-wide, during the 1980's his Golden Greats album reached Number 1 on the UK Country music charts.
"Kiss An Angel Good Morning" was a million-selling crossover single and helped Pride land Country Music Association Awards as Entertainer of the Year in 1971 and Top Male Vocalist in 1971 and 1972.
Other Pride standards include "Is Anybody Goin' To San Antone?", "I'm So Afraid of Losing You Again", "Mississippi Cotton Picking Delta Town", "Someone Loves You Honey", "When I Stop Leaving I'll Be Gone", "Burgers and Fries", and "You're So Good When You're Bad". Like many other country performers, he has paid tribute to Hank Williams with performances of Williams' classics "Kaw-Liga" and "Honky Tonk Blues", both of which are on the album There's a Little Bit of Hank in Me.
May 1, 1993: Pride accepted an invitation to join the Grand Ole Opry, in the process becoming the first African-American honoree in its more than 70-year history.
1994: Pride released his autobiography, Pride: The Charley Pride Story (published by William Morrow).
June 1994: Pride was honored by the Academy of Country Music with its prestigious Pioneer Award.
January 1996: Pride was honored with a Trumpet Award by Turner Broadcasting, marking outstanding African-American Achievement. His "Roll On Mississippi" was considered as the official song of his home state, a stretch of Mississippi highway was named for him, and he headlined a special Christmas performance for President and Mrs. Clinton at the White House.
July 1999: Pride received his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
October 4, 2000, Charley was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. His name was announced by Brenda Lee.
2003: Pride's album Comfort of Her Wings is released on Music City Records.
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