At the 54th Annual CMA Awards Wednesday night, the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Charley Pride, a truly deserving musical legend and hero to many.
A Touching Speech Impacting Fans and Entertainers
“Well, you might not believe, but I’m nervous as can be,” he said as he accepted the award. “All the people have been influenced by my life, what my life has been influenced by, I got to say something about some of them.”
Pride, 86, mentioned the late Jack Clement, saying “This man I’ve always been awed by, and I still am. My wife Roseanne and I would go and visit him. In fact, last time we visited before he passed away. He always said, ‘Roseanne, you’re so pretty.’ I never have forgotten that.”
He also thanked Jerry Bradley and John Daines, who was his road manager for 37 years.
Charley Pride takes the stage again
Jimmie Allen presented Pride with the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award after performing a stripped-down version of his song “Best Shot.” The two also performed one of Pride’s famous songs “Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'”.
Pride’s humility and pure joy were two of the factors everyone noticed, as he focused on thanking those who had helped him during his extraordinary career. Pride showed a great amount of gratitude to his fans, as well.
“All my fans, I want to say thank you,” he said. “Well, I’m through talking. I just want to thank everybody again. Like I said, I’m nervous.”
Congratulations, Mr. Charley Pride
Twitter began blowing up with congratulations to Pride.
Honoring a groundbreaking musician
Pride led the way in the country music genre by being one of the first African-American performers. He struggled to receive a recording contract upon moving to Nashville, but finally signed with RCA Victor in 1965, with the backing of producer Jack Clement. After putting out his first single, “The Snakes Crawl at Night,” country music audiences looked past the color of Pride’s skin, being drawn instead to his baritone voice, clarity and simplicity of his singing.
Helping Lead the Way for Racial Equality
Darius Rucker co-hosted the 2020 CMA Awards and was the second African-American to do so. However, Pride led the way by being the first African-American to host the CMA Awards.
“I remember saying to myself, ‘You can put up with whatever happens here because whatever happens to you is not going to be 1/10th, 1/100th of what Charley Pride went through,'” Rucker recalls when thinking about entering the country music industry.
“And now, decades and decades later, to be part of him getting an award…There’s nobody that deserves it more than Charley. Nobody,” Darius declares.