Charley Pride, Country Music’s First Black Superstar, Dies From COVID-19 Complications

Charley Pride

Charley Pride, country music’s first Black superstar died on Dec. 12 of COVID-19 complications, at the age of 86. Pride’s death was confirmed in a statement from his publicist

The singer is the first Black member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. He was also a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Pride recorded 52 Top 10 country hits, won three Grammy awards, and became RCA Records’ top-selling country artist between the years 1967 and 1987. In 1971, he received CMA’s Entertainer of the Year award.

Pride performed live for the last time just a month ago — on Nov. 11 — during the CMA Awards show at Nashville’s Music City Center. He played his 1971 hit “Kiss An Angel Good Mornin’” with Jimmie Allen.

“We’re not color blind yet, but we’ve advanced a few paces along the path and I like to think I’ve contributed something to that process,” Pride wrote in his memoir.

When news broke, Dolly Parton — who’s helping fund Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine — shared her grief in an emotional tweet. “I’m so heartbroken that one of my dearest and oldest friends, Charley Pride, has passed away. It’s even worse to know that he passed away from COVID-19. What a horrible, horrible virus. Charley, we will always love you,” she wrote. Rest In Peace. My love and thoughts go out to his family and all of his fans.”

Pride is the latest on an unfortunately long list of musicians who’ve died from COVID-19 this year, including fellow country legends John Prine and Joe Diffie. In lieu of flowers, his family asks for donations to The Pride Scholarship at Jesuit College Preparatory School, St. Philips School and Community Center, The Food Bank, or the charity of your choice.

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