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A MATTER OF PRIDE

Charley Pride has broken ground since arriving in Nashville from Mississippi with a warm baritone and a desire to sing country music. A Country Music Hall of Fame member, he is the Country Music Association’s 2020 Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award winner.

“Charley Pride is the epitome of a trailblazer,” says Sarah Trahern, CMA Chief Executive Officer. “Few other artists have grown country music’s rich heritage and led to the advancement of country music around the world like Charley. His distinctive voice has created a timeless legacy that continues to echo through the country community today. We could not be more excited to honor Charley with one of CMA’s highest accolades.”

Championed by Johnny Cash/Sun Records producer Cowboy Jack Clement, who urged Chet Atkins to sign the sharecropper’s son to RCA, Pride became a force in country music from the moment “Snakes Crawl at Night,” his first RCA single, landed on the charts in 1966. Twenty-nine #1s and more than 50 Top 10s later, his best known hits are 1972’s “Kiss an Angel Good Morning,” 1971’s “Is Anybody Goin’ to San Antone” and his first #1, 1969’s “All I Have to Offer You (Is Me).”

Pride won CMA Entertainer of the Year in 1971 and CMA Male Vocalist of the Year in 1971 and 1972, a staggering feat for country music’s first Black superstar considering the social unrest simmering in America. He also won two—of his three—Grammy Awards in 1971. As importantly, he was a superstar in full standing without the benefit of crossover hits or a network TV series. In 1975 he co-hosted The CMA Awards with Glen Campbell.

Now living in Dallas, still married to Rozene, his wife of 64 years, the man who brought a bluesy undertow to country music taught himself to play guitar by listening to Hank Williams. Installed as a Grand Ole Opry member in 1993—Pride grew up listening to the Opry alongside his father—he received a star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1997 and a Lifetime Achievement Award from NARAS in 2017. Still recording, he released Music In My Heart in 2017 and 50 Golden Years of Pride, recorded live, in 2018.

The Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award reflects an artist’s impact on country music in America and internationally over the course of their career. Previous recipients are Willie Nelson (2012), Kenny Rogers (2013), Johnny Cash (2015), Dolly Parton (2016) and Kris Kristofferson (2019).

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