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Charley Pride, Country Music's First Major Black Star, Dies At 86

Charley Pride, who sold millions of records and was the first Black performer to become a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, among many other honors, has died at age 86. A statement posted on the singer's website said Pride died in Dallas on Saturday from complications of COVID-19.

A sharecropper's son from Mississippi, Pride became one of the first Black men to become a major star in a genre where most of the biggest hit-makers are white. Rising to prominence in the 1960s and '70s, Pride recorded dozens of songs that topped the country music charts, including "Kiss an Angel Good Mornin' " and "Is Anybody Goin' to San Antone."

Pride had at least 30 No. 1 hits on the country music charts and won nearly every major award available to a country musician. In all, Pride won three Grammys, including Best Male Country Vocal Performance in 1972, as well as several awards from the Country Music Association, which named him its Entertainer of the Year in 1971. His final performance was on Nov. 11 at the CMA Awards, where he performed "Kiss an Angel Good Mornin' " with Jimmie Allen.

Alongside his competitive accolades, Pride gained nearly every other honor awarded to someone of his stature in the genre, including inductions into the Country Music Hall of Fame, in 2000, and the Grand Ole Opry — the mecca of country music, where Pride first performed in 1967 — in 1993.


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