Friday, September 11, 2009

Charlie Pride, Country Singer

Charlie Pride was born in 1938 in Sledge Mississippi. He was one of eleven children born to a family of poor sharecroppers. Talented at baseball, he ended up joining the Memphis Red Sox, a team of the Negro American League. It was during the long bus trips between games that Pride firs showcased his talent to other players on the team. On occasion, he would join in stage performances as the team crossed the country.

Pride was hitting his prime in sports at around the time that sports teams were integrating. He did try out for what were then white teams, among them the New York Mets, but that dream did not materialise. An arm injury and two years of military service slowed him down on the sports career track. But what was a loss for sports turned out to be a gain for music. Charlie Pride was fortunate enough to be get an audition with producer Jack Clement, who arranged for him a two hour recording session. This resulted in a contract with RCA in 1966.

Pride did well on the charts. At first, his race was concealed from the listening public. This was not possible in live performances. An awkward wave of silence is reported to have descended upon one audience as it slowly dawned on them that they were listening to an African American. The energy and talent in Pride's performance melted away the unease of an audience that was accustomed to white performers.

With time, Charlie Pride's face became a trademark of his prodigious talent achievements in a genre of music that had been predominantly white.

Charlie Pride has had staying power in his long country music career. He has topped the singles chart 29 times, and was named Country Music Association Performer of the Year in 1972.This was followed by his induction into the Grand Old Opry in 1993, the Academy of Country Music's Pioneer Award in 1994 and election to to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000.

Pride has used his success in music as a stepping stone to success in real estate and business. He is the largest stockholder in the First Texas bank, the largest minority owned bank in Texas. Fortunately for the world of music, he still spends some time in his musical career.

Pride has been married since 1956 and has three children. One of them, who goes by the name of Carlton Pride, has followed in his father's footsteps by going into reggae music.

Charlie Pride has had careers in sports, music and business. He has excelled at them all. His family life is quiet and happy. Marriages in the field of entertainment that pass the half century mark are not so common. It is in this field that Pride is a role model of success as well.

There are certain performers whose music never loses its appeal. In the field of country, Charlie Pride is right up there with Moe Bandy, Joe Diffy and Johnny Cash. Thank you Charlie Pride, and may you have many more successful years to come.

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