Charley Pride is this year’s recipient of CMA’s Willie Nelson Life Time Achievement Award. Qualification for the award is for artists to attain established credibility in country music.
Pride has long stood as a legend in country music earning accolades for himself throughout his career which include being a Grand Ole Opry member and a Country music Hall of Fame member. The 86-year-old country legend has also produced chart-topping songs and timeless hits over the years. Charley Pride also belongs to the few numbers of Black Country artists that have risen in prominence in country music.
CMA CEO Sarah Trahern said that Charley Pride was an example of a trailblazer. Pride is one of the few artists that have help build the rich heritage of country music to what it is today. The unique voice he possessed has produced hits that would last for years to come.
Pride now joins other country legends of the past that includes Willie Nelson, whom the award was named after, Kenny Rogers (2013), Johnny Cash (2015), Dolly Parton (2016), and Kris Kristofferson (2019).
Charley Pride, a Mississippi native played baseball at the Negro League Baseball. He also served in the United States Army prior to bursting into his musical career. For the span of 21 years, from 1968 to 1989, Pride made a name for himself in the country music industry. He produced 29 number 1 hit country songs and over 50 top 10 songs, among these group includes 1971 “Kiss an Angel Good Morning,” and 1970’s “Is Anybody Goin’ to San Antone.”
Amongst all the accomplishments that Pride has obtained in his career, one of the most significant, if not the most significant, was placing black artists on the map of country music. Pride was the only and thus far is the only black American country artist to have won the CMA artist of the year Award which he won in 1971. In the same year, he won one of his two CMA Male Vocalist of the Year awards. He won the same award in 1972.
Pride also appeared as the show’s co-host with Glen Campbell in 1975. Alongside his CMA Awards, Pride also paved the way for Black Artists to join the Grand Ole Opry as he was the first one to be able to do so in 1993. He also earned a spot on the country music hall of fame in 2000 and has 3 Grammy’s below his belt.