He was “country music’s first Black superstar.” Raised on a cotton farm in Sledge, Mississippi, Charley Pride used money from picking cotton to shop for his first guitar when he was 14 in 1948, The NY Times reported. Pride entered the country and western scene amid the racial division and tension of the 1960s, eventually finding groundbreaking success as he earned 29 No. 1 hit throughout his 50-plus-year career, consistent with Taste of Country.
More than four decades later, Darius Rucker would become the second Black singer to possess a No. 1 country hit, The NY Times reported. Now, a slew of artists — including Rucker, Garth Brooks, George Strait, and Gladys Knight — are honoring Pride, who died last year at 86 from COVID-19 complications. On Wednesday night, CMT is airing a 90-minute special which will celebrate the life and legacy of Pride, consistent with a news release sent to the Deseret News. The program will include special performances and interviews from a good range of Pride’s family, friends, and fellow musicians, also as archived footage featuring Pride.
“I’m honored to be a part of #CMTGiants: Charley Pride and celebrate the life and legacy of country and western trailblazer Charley Pride,” Knight shared on Twitter Wednesday. Knight also revealed some of her appearance on the program. “There’s something in his voice … it’s power and therefore the sincerity,” she said during a clip from the program posted on Twitter. “I can see him walking down there to the Mississippi. That’s how real he was.”