Sunday, September 13, 2009

Charley Pride- First Famous Black Country Singer

Charley was born March 18, 1938. Charley taught himself how to play the guitar when he was 14. He wanted to be a baseball player, but he proved to be a better musician than athlete. (Neither of which I am. L Sigh!) After a trip to Nashville in 1965 and two demos he was offered a contract. His first single “The Snakes Crawl at Night” was an instant hit. (Way to go Charley!) On tour in Detroit the story is this; When Charley stepped on stage he was greeted with loud applause, which got lower and lower in volume until near silence as most of the audience began to make the realization that he was a black country singer. (This was when prejudice was everywhere, and there had never been a famous black country singer before) But Charley’s music overcame that and after the show he was bombarded with autograph seekers and the rest is history. Charley’s singles became instant hits, and he made a joke before shows about his “permanent tan” that became his trademark. In 1969 his album of his collection of singles shot the singer up to the coveted number one position of country music sales charts. Throughout his career he had 36#1 hits singles, over 35 million albums sold, 31gold and 4 platinum including one quadruple platinum. (That really makes you sit back and say, Wow, He’s unbelievably good!)He suffered from depression throughout his career, and didn’t start taking medicine until he was hospitalized in 1989. He stayed on medicine after that and was able to maintain a remarkable career. On RCA Records, Charley Pride is second in sales only to Elvis Presley. He preformed at the White House for President Clinton and his wife. He was inducted into the roster of the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville--a high honor among country music traditionalists. Twenty-five years earlier, Pride had become the first African American singer to appear on the Opry stage. In the year 2000, he became the first African American member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. (That is what I call a role model!)

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