September 21, 2021


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Why Charlie Pride was a pioneer for country music and black musicians

6 min read

One of the most talked about parts of Ken Burns ’scattered 2019 PBS documentary“ Country Music ”was Charlie Pride, who was billed as the first black superstar of country music. In the section, Pride, who died of COVID-19 complications at the age of 86 in DC 12, tells a story that perfectly illustrates what it was like to be black in the age of civil rights – and to many it still was – considered white man’s music. Is done. It perfectly depicts what it was like in the past for a white man to try to make it into a white world.

Abhiman recalls his early days in Nashville in the mid-nineties and was first introduced to superstar Farren Young, who recorded the 1961 classic “Hello Wallace”. Young was like a quarterback to the city, and as Pride’s manager at the time told him, if you could win against Farn Young, you were going; If you can’t, well, good luck for the next life. According to Pride, the first encounter, the beginning of a friendship before Young’s death in 1996, was something like this:

“He used to sing a song, and I used to sing a song. He would sing a song, and I would sing a song, and at the end he would say, ‘Okay, I’ll stay! Who would have thought that I was sitting here with a jig and not remembering anything? ”

That arrogance can be laughed at as a mild and gentle alternative to the n-sound that was said and still accepted as a compliment shows us why he survived as a black man in country music at a time when Blacks compared to most countries in the United States. Folk music may be less welcome than this. Equipped with talent and incredibly thick skin, Mississippi sharecropper’s son and fourth child of 11, Elvis Presley and the third most-successful country performer of the 1970s, overcame the reaction to become the best-selling artist of RCA Records, behind Conway Tweet and Meryl Haggard.

He was the number two Billboard country single from 1999 to 1983 and made it to the top 52 for a total of 52 decades, when in 191 he became the first Black Act to win a Grammy for Best Album for his album “Charlie”, Best Country Voice, Male, Pride. Sing the song of the heart. “His career was an early legacy: the first black artist to be the number one country soloist, the first artist of any color to win the Desh Sangeet Samiti’s male vocalist’s award twice in a row (19191 and 1972), the first black to win the CMA’s Distinguished Entertainment of the Year award. Performer (in 1971) and the first black artist to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000.

Without him, it’s hard to imagine that Darius Rocker would enjoy life after Hutty and Blowfish as a successful country musician. At the November 11 National Music Association Awards, perhaps not Jimmy Allen, the rising black country star with whom Pride signed his 1971 crossover “Kiss Angel Good Morinin”, where he received a Lifetime Achievement Award, and we almost certainly won’t have singer-songwriter Mickey Gaiton. , Who recently became the first black woman to be nominated for a Grammy in any country since the mid-Middle Ages with her best country song contestant “Black Like Me”.

Pride, however, was the person who, through my 8-year-old copy of my 1969 album “The Best of Charlie’s Pride,” who helped sever my long-standing love affair with country music, was much more than the color of his skin. A former minor-league baseball player, he would not break the unexpected color code of country music to become the best in both genres commercially and critically without exceptional talent.

But it took a black man more than an exceptional genius to become a country music star in the ’60s. In 1962, pop and soul legend-in-making Ray Charles released his landmark “Modern Sound in Country and Western Music”, an album whose first single, a cover of Don Gibson’s 1958 Nashville Standard “I Can’t Stop Loving You”, was released. Charts Hit No. 1 on the Pop and Soul charts (as well as the UK, Australia and Norway) without hassle. Although Charles occasionally continued recording and performing country songs in the ’60s and’ 70s, he was not a regular on the country’s charts until the ’80s, and his forgotten success in the genre probably did not pave the way for arrogance.

Pride’s first single, “Snap Crawl at Night,” actually followed “Modern Sounds” four years later, and its label, RCA Victor, released it on radio stations called “Country Charlie Pride” without any pictures to confirm it. The young musician is a fair shot of a genre that is still in Jim Cray’s fingerprints. Although in the end it doesn’t really matter. Once his identity and race were revealed, however, pride grew from this place and in the late ’60s, he was on his way to becoming Nashville’s biggest star.

Even today, if you close your eyes and listen to any of Charlie Pride’s songs, you won’t hear black. His rich baritone surpasses the race and in some ways surpasses even Jenner. Any of his hits, even unique and spanning decades, as “Everything I Offer You, You Are Mine,” “Near San Anton, Does Anyone Count”, “Wonder Love,” “You Are My Jamaica,” and “Mississippi Roll.” , “The first thing you hit is his flawless delivery. It’s a perfect combination of hard country and pop polish that lends a patriotic tone to the angry Hanky ​​Tonk blues of Hank Williams and Lefty Friezel like Eddie Arnold and Jim Reeves.

Stunning live songs from Hank Williams’ “Cao-Liga” (top-three 1999 hits) can take you to your feet, the gospel albums “What You Wanted to Pray” can take with you to church (which turned golden that year is a sign of Arthra Franklin). Amazing Grace “came before and two more Grammys) and” Sunday Morning Charlie with Proud “, and your heart has found and lost the ballad of detailed, melodic country-pop love, not even looking for gear switching. He was a master of almost every country subdivision, showing such fluency and versatility that rare exceptions – Dolly Parton and her longtime friend Willie Nelson – were unparalleled in the genre.

He must be sure that he was Aritha Franklin for country music, not just because of their fortunes, but because he was a pioneer like Aritha, who in his case created a blueprint for ascending to royalty. In doing so, he inspired the younger generation like me to never let the brick walls and glass ceilings hold us back or let us down. The dream that just seems out of reach is actually up to us to accept it.

Five essential Charlie pride songs ide

“Only between you and me” (1966): The first of his 52 top 10 hits it dropped a string that broke once in the next 18 years.

“I Know One” (1967): It took a strong, determined singer to take full ownership of a song previously composed by the late, great Jim Reeves, but Pride did exactly the same thing with his second top ten singles.

“Kiss an Angel Good Morning” (1971): His signature song and 40 pop hits in the first and last top made it his only country to win a Grammy and helped lay the groundwork for his chart dominance in the rest of the decade and early 80s.

“Where do I keep his memory” (1979): A tear-jerking post-mortem thought about love and loss, his final ‘70s chart-topper is as frustrating and timeless as George Jones’ “He’s His Loving Bond Today” a year later.

“If You Were Bad You Were Very Good” (1983): In one of his final No. 1, Glory created a piece of country rhythm and blues that was more soulful than what Lionel Richie or Diana Ross was doing at the time.

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