Charley Pride passed away Saturday, December 12, aged 86. The cause of death was given as “complications from COVID-19.” He was in a hospice facility in Dallas at the time of his death.
Charley was born into a family of poor Mississippi sharecroppers on March 18, 1934. He became country music’s first Black superstar and the first Black member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.
- “No person of color had ever done what he has done,” said Darius Rucker in the PBS American Masters film Charley Pride: I’m Just Me.
He was a gifted athlete and played semi-pro and then pro baseball, interrupted by a spell in the army. At one point, he played for the Louisville Clippers when he and another player, Jesse Mitchell, were traded to the Birmingham Black Barons for a team bus. “Jesse and I may have the distinction of being the only players in history to be traded for a used motor vehicle,” Pride mused in his 1994 autobiography.
Country artists Red Sovine and Red Foley (see bullet point, below) had heard Charley sing and encouraged him to try out for a music career. He cut a couple of songs at Sun Studios in Memphis without success, but was then spotted by Chet Akins at RCA who signed him to a record deal in 1965. Working with produced Cowboy Jack Clement, Charley found his first success with “Just Between You and Me” that became a Top Ten country hit in 1967.
Between 1967 and 1987, Pride delivered 52 Top 10 country hits, won Grammy awards, and became RCA Records’ top-selling country artist. His musicality opened minds and superseded prejudice. Many of his songs became ‘crossover hits’, entering the pop charts as well as the country charts in a style known as ‘countrypolitan’.
Those crossover hits include: “All I Have to Offer You (Is Me)”, “(I’m So) Afraid of Losing You Again”, “I Can’t Believe That You’ve Stopped Loving Me”, “I’d Rather Love You”, “Is Anybody Goin’ to San Antone”, “Wonder Could I Live There Anymore”, “I’m Just Me”, and “Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'”.
The million-selling “Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'” led to him landing the Country Music Association’s prestigious Entertainer of the Year award, as well as Top Male Vocalist. He won CMA’s Top Male Vocalist award again in 1972.
His final performance came on November 11, 2020, when he sang “Kiss An Angel Good Mornin’” during the CMA Awards show at Nashville’s Music City Center with Jimmie Allen, a modern-day hitmaker who counts Pride among his heroes.
On Wednesday, December 16, CMT will a special presentation, CMT Remembers Charley Pride, that will rebroadcast several times. Check CMT.com for dates and times. The special includes appearances by Darius Rucker, Loretta Lynn, Tim McGraw and others.
- Charley first met Red Foley at KCAP-AM in Montana where Foley heard him sing. Foley was impressed and later that day introduced Charley to Red Sovine. The two ‘Reds’ got Charley up on stage with them that evening to sing a couple of songs and then Sovine introduced Charley to a Nashville music publisher. The date of that fortunate meeting at KCAP radio? December 12, 1963 – exactly 57 years before Charley’s death on December 11, 2020.
- Elvis Presley was the only artist who sold more records than Charley Pride for the RCA label.
Brett Young continues to ring in the holiday season with the release of “Silver Bells,” released December 11 via BMLG Records. Check it out at https://brettyoung.lnk.to/SilverBellsPR
“Aside from ‘Silver Bells’ being one of the most well-known classic Christmas songs, its specifically always been one of my favorites,” Young shared. “I think a song that’s able to lend itself to so many different versions is a special thing and this one seems to be extremely versatile. Also, it just makes me happy when it comes on and that’s what Christmas is all about.”
His latest Top 30-and-rising single, “Lady,” is a heart-bending love letter to his daughter and wife written with Ross Copperman and Jon Nite shortly before Presley’s birth in October 2019. While touring is paused, Young has been tapped for several high-profile, all-genre livestreams in an effort to bring music and relief to fans across the world. More at www.BrettYoungMusic.com.
Jeannie Seely, with featured guest Tim Atwood, hosts the second annual Santa Paws is Coming To Town benefit performance on December 19 on the historical Ernest Tubb Midnite Jamboree at the Texas Troubadour Theatre in Nashville. Several guest stars will be joining Jeannie.
The show will be taped live for fans to watch during a live-stream at 2 p.m. CT, Dec 19, on the Ernest Tubb Record Shop Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ernesttubbrecordshops and/or listen to a radio broadcast at midnight on WSM 650 Radio and online at wsm.com.
Fans are asked to bring food, blankets, animal beds, puppy pads, cat litter, cleaning supplies, pet toys, treats and more to benefit the dogs and cats who find themselves in Nashville animal shelters at the start of a new year. The donations can be dropped off at the Texas Troubadour Theatre 2416 Music Valley Drive Nashville through December 20 from 10am to 5pm CT.
“The response we got last year was so positive, I just knew we had to make this an annual event! At this time of year, we seem to be more aware of those in need in our community and I felt like this was one area being overlooked,” exclaimed Jeannie Seely. “Not only do these wonderful little animals need and deserve attention, so do the wonderful people who care for them! They work so hard and it’s more difficult when you don’t have what you need to work with. It was so rewarding to see their excitement to not only receive the supplies but to know we all appreciate them!” Follow Jeannie Seely on her website www.jeannieseely.com
Once again, the Billboard Year End charts are dominated by Luke Combs for 2020, according to a report in Billboard by Tom Roland. The results are based on weekly charts between Nov 1, 2019 and Oct 31, 2020. Combs repeats dominating the same seven categories that he also topped in 2019:
- Top Country Artists
- Top Country Artists — Male
- Top Hot Country Songs Artists
- Top Country Airplay Artists
- Top Country Digital Songs Artists
- Top Country Albums Artists
- Top Country Albums Titles (for What You See Is What You Get)
For 2020, Combs added one more year-end leadership position: Top Hot Country Songwriters, a category in which he finished second in 2019.
Newcomer Gabby Barrett topped four of Billboard’s Year End charts:
- Top Hot Country Songs
- Top Country Digital Songs Titles
- Top Country Streaming Songs
- Top Country Artists — New
Gabby’s success was largely driven by her debut single, “I Hope.”
Buoyed by the song “Chasin’ You,” Morgan Wallen led 2020 in two categories:
- Top Country Streaming Songs Artists
- Top Country Airplay Songs
Acts topping some of the other Billboard Year End charts:
Top Country Artists – Duo/Group: Dan + Shay
Top Country Artists – Female: Maren Morris
Top Country Songs Producers: Dann Huff
Top Americana/Folk Albums: Traveller, Chris Stapleton
Country Radio Seminar (CRS) has announced the artists who will be featured in 2021’s “New Faces of Country Music”, an annual showcase that presents emerging acts to program directors, programmers, air personalities and other decision-makers at Country Radio. Many careers have taken off after appearing as part of the New Faces show. For 2021, the show will be virtual, rather than live, out of concerns for COVID-19. The New Faces Class of 2021:
Tenille Arts, Travis Denning, HARDY, Ashley McBryde and Matt Stell.
CRS ’21, The Virtual Experience, is scheduled for February 16 – 19, 2021.
Dierks Bentley has just released a music video that continues the momentum of his new single “Gone”. The video was released through People and Entertainment Weekly. Off to a huge start at radio, the video finds Bentley hitting rock bottom as his own life plays out before him through iconic television scenes where each one is worse than the previous. “Gone” is available at all digital retailers at https://strm.to/DBGonePR.
“It just always ends poorly for me in this video,” said Bentley. “I definitely had a lot more fun making it than it looks though…we got to film a bunch of scenes inspired by some of my favorite shows like The Office, MacGyver, Game Of Thrones and Full House. And I got to collaborate with some new directors I’ve never worked with, so I left at the end of a really long day feeling really happy and inspired about a kind of sad song.”
- Watch the video at https://umgn.us/DBGoneVideo It’s really funny – and typically Dierks-crazy!
Bentley has amassed countless nominations from the ACMs, CMAs, Billboard Music Awards and more while also earning 14 GRAMMY nominations. He just recently celebrated his 15-year anniversary as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. For more information visit www.dierks.com.
“I Know Country” Q&A from the book “I Know Country” by Preshias Harris, available in print or e-book editions at www.iknowcountry.com
QUESTION: Name the singer who was “Holdin’ Heaven” at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Single chart in 1993, and then went “Ten Rounds With Jose Cuervo”, another No. 1 in 2002.
Brady Seals has released a brand-new version of his iconic ’90s hit, “God Blessed Texas,” which he co-wrote and recorded during his time with country super-group, Little Texas. It is now available through all streaming platforms and digital retailers. The corresponding music video was featured on CMT.com. Listen at http://smarturl.it/SealsGodBlessedTexas.
Seals also released his new memoir, God Blessed Texas & Me Too which just hit #1 on Amazon’s Christian Music New Releases. The book is titled after his monster hit song and was written to encourage and inspire readers while taking them through his dramatic journey from the height of Seals’ fame during his time spent with Little Texas, to the personal lows brought about by anxiety, depression, and divorce. You can order the paperback, audiobook, or Kindle edition of God Blessed Texas & Me Too on Amazon. Full details at https://www.bradyseals.com/
- Brady Seals comes from a long line of iconic musicians including his cousins, Jimmy Seals (Seals & Crofts), Dan Seals (England Dan and John Ford Coley), his Uncle, hit-songwriter, Troy Seals (Songwriter Hall of Fame, “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes”), and Chuck Seals (“Crazy Arms”). He has sold over 11 million albums and topped three genres simultaneously.
This Week In Country Music
Dec 13, 1971 The No. 1 song on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart: Charley Pride’s “Kiss an Angel Good Mornin’” written by Ben Peters. It was No. 1 for the entire month of December 1971.
Dec 16, 2017 “Meant To Be” (Bebe Rexha and Florida Georgia Line) is No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, for the first of fifty record-setting weeks.
Dec 19, 1980 The movie 9 to 5 debuts, starring Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. Dolly writes and performs the theme song for the movie that introduces her to a new audience beyond country music.
This Week’s Country Music Birthdays
December 13 Randy Owen (Alabama), 1949
John Anderson, 1954
Taylor Swift, 1989 (youngest songwriter ever hired by Sony/ATV at age 14)
December 14 DeFord Bailey, 1899 (first black artist to perform on the Grand Ole Opry)
Charlie Rich, 1932 (died July 25, 1995)
December 16 Jeff Carson, 1963 (now a police officer)
December 17 Tracy Byrd, 1966
Duane Propes (Little Texas), 1967
December 18 Cledus T. Judd, 1964
Cowboy Troy (MusikMafia member, ‘Hick-Hop’ artist), 1970
Randy Houser, 1975
December 19 Little Jimmy Dickens, 1920 (died Jan 3, 2015)
John McEuen (Nitty Gritty Dirt Band), 1945
“I Know Country” Q&A Answer: Say Happy Birthday to Tracy Byrd, born on Dec 17, 1966. He has charted more than thirty hit singles as well as four RIAA-certified gold album and one double-platinum album (No Ordinary Man, MCA Records, 1994).
This week’s Billboard Country Airplay Top 5
Compiled by Nielsen Media / MRC Data for Dec 19, 2020
- (2) “Big, Big Plans” Chris Lane
- (1) “Happy Anywhere” Blake Shelton ft. Gwen Stefani
- (6) “Ain’t Always the Cowboy” Jon Pardi
- (3) “Love You Like I Used To” Russell Dickerson
- (4) “Pretty Heart” Parker McCollum
- A new No. 1 on the Airplay Chart this week and the 3rd for Chris Lane. It’s also Lane first No. 1 as a writer, co-writing “Big, Big Plans” with Jacob Durrett and Ernest K. Smith.
- Lane’s previous chart-toppers on Country Airplay: “Fix” (2017), “I Don’t Know About You” (2019).
- In other chart news… Gabby Barrett has broken a record (set by Maren Morris) as “I Hope” tops Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart for its 20th week, the longest run by a female solo artist in the chart’s history. (The Hot Country Songs chart combines sales, streaming and radio airplay metrics.)
Preshias Harris is a music career development consultant with the emphasis on new and aspiring artists and songwriters. Visit www.collegeofsongology.com for more details. Follow her blog at www.nashvillemusicline.com
Harris is also the author of “I Know Country” with 366 daily country music questions and answers. You can buy and instantly download your e-book copy at www.IKnowCountry.com.