The country music world lost the legendary Charley Pride on Saturday after a short battle with COVID-19. Pride's last performance and public appearance came at the CMA Awards in November. The singer fell ill shortly after returning home to Texas.
The singer's family confirmed the passing in a Facebook statement, noting that he died from complications with the coronavirus on Saturday morning. "He was admitted to the hospital in late November with Covid-19 type symptoms and despite the incredible efforts, skill and care of his medical team over the past several weeks, he was unable to overcome the virus," the statement reads. "Charley felt blessed to have such wonderful fans all over the world. And he would want his fans to take this virus very seriously."
The post also noted that the family requested donations to The Pride Scholarship at Jesuit College Preparatory School, St. Philips School and Community Center, The Food Bank or a charity of your choosing.
Pride was one of only three Black members of the Grand Ole Opry with DeFord Bailey and Darius Rucker. He is also the only Black member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, carried on successful tunes like "Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'" and "Is Anybody Going to San Antone." His appearance at the CMA Awards on Nov. 11 was to receive the organization's Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award.
The Country Music Association released a statement on Pride's passing, also addressing speculation that his attendance at the event may have contributed to his diagnosis. "Everyone affiliated with the CMA Awards followed strict testing protocols outlined by the city health department and unions," the joint statement from CMAs and Pride's representatives said. "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."
Country star Maren Morris was one of many speculating that the decision to hold the awards in person and without masks could have led to the legendary singer contracting the disease. "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. Rest in power, Charley," Morris wrote on Twitter. Pride was 86.