12.21.2020

Charley Pride Showed Me What Others Tried To Tell Me

Charley Pride Showed Me What Others Tried To Tell Me

The freelance writer bids farewell to a legend who gave him an example of limitless opportunity.

By Michael P Coleman

It’s taken me longer to write this than it’s ever taken me to write anything.

The world lost a musical trailblazer last Saturday when country music’s Charley Pride succumbed to complications due to COVID-19. He was 86 years old. For 48 of those years, Pride’s life and career had a profound impact on me.

News of Pride’s death took me down for a few hours. I wept when I read a text — from my ex-wife, of all people — about his death, tossing my phone aside before even being able to read that the coronavirus had taken him out.

Over a week later, sitting here to write this, I’m still wiping away tears.

I won’t waste time expressing my frustration and anger at the Country Music Association, for holding an indoor, largely mask-less event in early November, during which they gave Pride a LONG overdue Lifetime Achievement Award. As Pride might have said, I’m as mad as a wet hornet about it.

But it was another first in his career: he was the first Black artist to ever receive it.

I also won’t waste time giving an overview of Pride’s career achievements. I’m sure you’ve read about them somewhere else over the last week.

Suffice it to say that Pride almost singlehandedly integrated country radio and become RCA Records’ second best-selling artist. Only Elvis Presley sold more, and Pride himself told me, in 2014, that he was very…proud of that accomplishment.

Instead, I’ll tell you what Charley Pride did for me.

Read freelance writer MPC’s full farewell to Charley Pride, and his 2014 interview with the legend.

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 Michael P Coleman is a freelance writer who, as a kid, talked to strangers and got punished. Today, he talks to strangers and gets published.  Follow his blog, his IG and his Twitter