Charley Pride: Country Music Association Addresses Legendary Star's Death Amid Speculation

The Country Music Association stated Charley Pride's death amid concern he may have contracted the coronavirus when he attended the CMA Awards in Nashville on Nov. 11. The CMA said Pride tested negative for the virus before he traveled to Nashville and was tested the day of the show, and all tests came back negative. Pride, 86, died Saturday from complications of the coronavirus in Dallas.

"Everyone affiliated with the CMA Awards followed strict testing protocols outlined by the city health department and unions," the CMA and Pride's representatives said in a joint statement late Saturday night. "Charley was tested before traveling to Nashville. He was tested upon landing in Nashville and again on show day, with all negative tests. After returning to Texas following the CMA Awards, Charley again tested negative multiple times. All of us in the Country Music community are heartbroken by Charley's passing. Out of respect for his family during their grieving period, we will not be commenting on this further."

The CMA Awards ceremony was still held in person at the Music City Center in Nashville last month, despite the pandemic. Pride was there to perform his signature song "Kiss An Angel Good Mornin'" and receive the lifetime achievement award. Fans and even some stars like Maren Morris began speculating that he could have contracted the virus during his trip to Nashville. "I don't want to jump to conclusions because no family statement has been made, but if this was a result of the CMAs being indoors, we should all be outraged," Morris wrote.

Pride's family also issued another statement on his official Facebook page late Saturday, explaining that he was not hospitalized for the virus until late November. "Despite the incredible efforts, skill, and care of his medical team over the past several weeks, he was unable to overcome the virus," the family's statement read. "Charley felt blessed to have such wonderful fans all over the world. And he would want his fans to take this virus very seriously."

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Pride was the first Black member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and one of only three Black members of the Grand Ole Opry. His best-known hits include "Kiss an Angel Good Mornin,'" "Just Between You and Me," "All I Have to Offer You (Is Me)," and "Is Anybody Goin' to San Antone." Pride also played baseball in the Negro Leagues during the 1950s. He was also a successful businessman in North Dallas, Texas, focusing on real estate and bank investing. He is survived by his wife, Rozene Pride, and their children, Carlton, Charles, and Angela.