A few days after the tragic passing of country music trailblazer Charley Pride, his family has announced the plans for his funeral and memorial. A pioneer in the industry, Pride was the first Black country star to pave the way for future generations. He passed away at the age of 86 over the weekend after complications from COVID-19.
His family and close friends will hold a private wake and memorial in Dallas this week. A public celebration of his life and accomplishments will follow at a later time. The family asks fans of his that want to donate flowers to instead donate to The Pride Scholarship at Jesuit College Preparatory School, St. Phillips School and Community center or any other local charity or food bank. His legacy will also be honored this Wednesday when CMT airs a special CMT Remembers Charley Pride that will showcase his career and all of the achievements and milestones he set throughout his time as a musician.
Pride, whose first studio album came out in 1966 and would mark the first of his eventual 41 albums, broke down color barriers to become the first Blacks country music superstar and the first Black member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. In 1971, he was named the CMA’s Entertainer of the Year, eventually earning a Lifetime Achievement award at this November’s ceremony. While there, he also performed for what turned out to be his final time on stage alongside Jimmie Allen. In the days since his passing, many of the industries’ biggest stars, including the likes of Allen, Darius Rucker and Mickey Guyton, have shared the impact he had on their careers. In his memoir, Pride wrote that “we’re not color blind yet” when it comes to the industry and society as a whole, but he believes “we’re advanced a few paces along the path.”
To sum up his impact, Allen said that the loss of the “legend” feels as though “Superman died” in his case. Seeing Pride’s music as a younger kid growing up in Delaware, Allen said it showed him that anything is possible, “That really showed me that it doesn’t matter what people might think you can’t do because of the color of your skin.” Similarly, Rucker noted the impact he had on the music world, calling Pride not just an icon or legend but also someone who “destroyed barriers and did things that one ever had done.”