Charlie Braid, the first black country music superstar who helped his rich baritone with songs like “Kiss an Angel Good Morning” sell millions of records and made him the first black member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. He was 86 years old.
Pride died on Saturday in Dallas of complicationsAccording to Jeremy Westby of 2911 Media PR firm.
“I feel very sad that one of my dearest and oldest friends, Charlie Pride, is gone. It’s even worse to know that he’s passed away from COVID-19. What a horrible virus, horrible. Charlie, we’ll always love you,” Dolly Parton tweeted.
Braid released dozens of albums and sold more than 25 million records during his career that began in the mid-1960s. Visits with “Kiss an Angel Good Morning” in 1971 included “Is Anybody Goin ‘to San Antone”, “Burgers and Fries”, “Mountain of Love” and “Someone Loves You Honey”.
He won three Grammy Awards, more than 30 No. 1 songs between 1969 and 1984, won Best Singer and Music Artist from the Country Music Association in 1972 and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000.
The Smithsonian in Washington acquired Pride memorabilia, including a pair of shoes and one of his guitars, for the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Ronnie Millsap called him a “pioneer” and said that without his encouragement, Millsap might never go to Nashville. “Hearing this news tears my heart,” he said in a statement.
Until the early 1990s, when Cliff Francis came along, Braide was the only black singer to sign for a major brand.
In 1993, he joined the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville.
“They used to ask me how I feel like I’m the first country singer of color,” he told the Dallas Morning News in 1992. Then he was the “first Negro country singer”; Then ‘the first black country singer. ′ Now I am the first African American singer. This relates to the only thing that has changed. This country is very ethnic conscious, so I eat colors and dyes. “Skin stops – it’s a disease.”
Pride grew up in Sledge, Mississippi, the son of a farmer. He had seven brothers and three sisters.
In 2008 while accepting his Lifetime Achievement Award as part of the Mississippi Governor for Excellence in the Arts Awards, Braid said he had never focused on race.
Braid said, “My older sister once said, ‘Why is she singing her music?'” “But we all understand what the syndrome all of us and us was like. Look, I’ve never accepted that as an individual, and I really think that’s why I’m where I am today.”
As a young man before starting his singing career, he was an archer and defender in the Native American League with the Memphis Red Sox and in the Major League Soccer in Montana.
After playing minor league baseball for two years, he ended up in Helena, Montana, working in a zinc smelter by day and playing country music in nightclubs at night.
After experimenting with the New York Mets, he visited Nashville and broke into country music when Chet Atkins, president of RCA Records, heard two of his demo tapes and signed on.
To ensure Braid is judged based on his music rather than his race, his first singles were sent to radio stations without a publicity photo. After his identity became known, some country radio stations refused to play his music.
Despite this, Pride said it was mostly well received. Early in his career, he would comfort white audiences when he joked about his “lasting color”.
He said in 1992: “Music is the greatest medium of communication on the planet. Once people heard my voice and heard me display and watched my conduct, any fears or bad feelings they might have dissipated.”
Throughout his career, he sang positive songs instead of sad songs often associated with country music.
He told the Associated Press in 1985: “Music is a beautiful way of self-expression, and I really believe that music should not be considered a protest. You can go too far with anything – singing, acting, whatever – and becoming politicized is the point where you stop being Be an artist. ”
In 1994, he wrote his autobiography, “Pride: The Charley Pride Story,” in which he revealed that he had moderate depression.
He underwent surgery in 1997 to remove a tumor from his right vocal cord.
Received the Living Legend Award by Nashville / Music City News, in recognition of his 30 years of achievement in 1997.
He said in 1985: “I would like to be remembered as a good person who tried to be a good artist and make people happy, and was a good American who paid his taxes and made a good living.” Better and shares my turn. “
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