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Charley Pride’s 1972 Album,”Sings Heart Songs” Champions Country Amidst the Rise of Pop

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Charley Pride has been an iconic figure for country music. Throughout his career, Pride shattered racial boundaries while racial tensions were at its peak and at the same time was creating timeless country hits. Charley Pride’s career was not an overnight rise to fame. He had to face racism from record label executives and was also called a washed-up athlete. Pride was truly an inspiration for anybody facing stereotypes, both for artists and fans.

Sings Heart Songs

Pride had a love for baseball which he exerted his effort on for the early part of his career. He also spent two years in the military before being able to play baseball for Montana. During his stint in Montana, the team manager tasked Pride to perform 15 min before every game just to attract fans. The album “Sings Heart Songs” by Charley Pride marked the culmination of a lifetime worth of hardships just to reach his goal of “making it”.

The album “Sings Heart Songs” by Charley Pride marked the culmination of a lifetime worth of hardships just to reach his goal of “making it”.

The release of the album cemented Pride’s legacy as one of Country Music’s legend. This was released four years after his breakthrough single, “Just Between You and Me” which earned Pride a Grammy. The album also depicted Pride’s love for the traditional sound of Country over the cross over styles that were starting to run over the country. The album also featured “Kiss the Angel Good Mornin’” which later became Pride’s greatest hit.

This earned Pride several awards such as a Grammy Award as well as the Entertainer of the Year and Vocalist of the Year from the Country Music Association. What made it more special was the achievement Pride gained in a predominantly white genre.

In 1971, Pop has been rising into the scene of Country music. The likes of John Denver and Elvis Presley would begin to emerge. In the midst of these changes, Pride’s album, “Sings Heart Songs”  was a strong contender to advocate the traditional Country sound in songs. 

Several factors made “Sings Heart Songs” very distinct. First, drums were used scarcely in the album. This was contrary to the overwhelming use of it in other genres. Second, is the use of the piano and of the bass. Pride used the piano heavily throughout the record and also used a different form of the bass which was an upright bass rather than using the electric one. Lastly, Pride’s song had lyrics that had much meaning to touch hearts and souls.

Kiss An Angel Good Mornin’

 “Kiss An Angel Good Mornin” was written by Ben Peters. Peters has been writing dozens of songs for Pride. This included songs that made its way to the top of the Country Charts. Along with Jack Clement, Pride’s producer, Peters introduced the song to Pride.  Upon hearing the song, Pride didn’t envision it to be a big hit. 

Ben Peters had his inspiration from his newborn baby who was named Angela. Ben Peters’ wife would always remind him to kiss the baby before he left. Thus, the song’s theme was born.

”Kiss The Angel Good Mornin,” upon its release, was Pride’s eight number one Country Hit. The song also peaked as a number 7 hit on the Adult Contemporary Chart. Pride also labeled the song as a clear example of how the song conquered the odds of becoming a crossover hit. 

Charley Pride

Charley Pride was the most accomplished African-American during the 1960s. Over the span of 23 years, from 1966 to 1989,  he was able to produce unforgettable songs that spent multiple weeks atop the charts.

With his incredible talent, Charley Pride gained twenty-nine #1 country hits between his debut year in 1966 and 1989. Over the next 20 years, Pride produced singles that sold hundreds of thousands of copies including unforgettable classics as Is Anybody Goin’ to San Antone” (1970), “Kiss an Angel Good Mornin” (1971), and “All I have to offer You is Me” (1969).

With this, Pride was able to achieve multiple awards from the Country Music Association. This included the Entertainer of the year award in 1971 and the Top Male Vocalist in successive years in 1971 and 1972.

In 1993, Charley Pride joined the Grand Ole Opry.  The following year Pride: The Charley Pride Story, which was written with Jim Henderson was published the following year. In the year 2000, Pride was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. During the 21st century, he released Pride and Joy: A Gospel Music Collection (2006) and Choices (2011). In 2017, Charley Pride was honored with a Grammy Award for lifetime achievement and in the same year released the album Music in my Heart.

In addition to becoming an excellent singer and entertainer, Charley Pride is a wise and conventional businessman. He was able to establish Chardon, a booking and management company that later on helped, Janie Fricke, Dave & Sugar, and Neal McCoy to stardom. Tom Collins and Charley Pride partnered in Pi-Gem song publishing. Pride kept on producing hits after hits and was a non-stop touring artist.

 

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