Charlie Pride LIVE in The E Center
Name: Charlie Pride LIVE in The E Center
Date: January 26, 2019
JANUARY 26, 2019 | STARTS AT 8PM (DOORS OPEN AT 6:30)
Live in the E Center!
Becoming a trailblazing Country Music superstar was an improbable destiny for Charley Pride, especially considering his humble beginnings as a sharecropper’s son on a cotton farm in Sledge, Mississippi. His unique journey to the top of the music charts includes a tumultuous detour through the world of Negro league, minor league and semi-pro baseball as well as many long years of labor alongside the vulcanic fires of a smelter. But in the end, with boldness, perseverance and undeniable musical talent, he managed to parlay a series of fortuitous encounters with Nashville insiders into an amazing legacy of hit singles and tens of millions in record sales.
Growing up, Charley was exposed primarily to Blues, Gospel and Country music. His father inadvertently fostered Charley’s love of Country music by tuning the family’s Philco radio to Nashville’s WSM-AM in order to catch Grand Ole Opry broadcasts. At 14, Charley purchased his first guitar—a Silvertone from a Sears Roebuck catalog—and taught himself how to play it by listening to the songs that he heard on that radio.
By the age of 16, Charley began emerging as a talented baseball player. He first played organized games in the Iowa State League and then professional games in the Negro American League as a pitcher and outfielder for the Memphis Red Sox. In 1953, he signed a contract with the Boise Yankees, the Class C farm team of the New York Yankees. But during that season an injury hampered his pitching. He was first sent to the Yankees' Class D team in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin and then released. Over the next several years, Charley rejoined the Memphis Red Sox, moved to the Louisville Clippers and then was traded, along with another player, to the Birmingham Black Barons for a used bus. He also played for the El Paso Kings and a team in Nogales, Mexico. Upon rejoining the Memphis Red Sox in 1956 he won 14 games as a pitcher and earned himself a position on the Negro American League All-Star Team. As an all-star player that year, Charley pitched against a group of major league all-stars that included Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Al Smith, Gene Baker and Ernie Banks. Between ballparks, Charley often passed the time and entertained teammates by singing and playing his guitar on the team bus. And during these travels he happily joined performers onstage whenever he was given the opportunity.
In 1962 Charley was introduced to Country singers Red Sovine and Red Foley and invited to perform “Heartaches By The Numbers” and “Lovesick Blues” during one of their shows. This brief initial encounter with Red Sovine would turn out to be crucial in laying the groundwork for Charley’s future music career. In 1966, Chet Atkins signed Charley to RCA Records. Atkins took Charley under his wing, nurtured his talent and figured out how to dance past the race issue, which was no small feat during mid 1960s America. Although Charley’s first couple of singles failed to jump-start his career, “Just Between You and Me” caught fire in 1966, breaking into the Top-10 Country chart and garnering Charley his first Grammy nomination. Charley Pride quickly became Country Music’s first African-American superstar. Between 1966 and 1987, he amassed no fewer than 52 Top-10 Country hits and went on to sell tens of millions of records worldwide. In 1971, Charley won two Grammy Awards related to his Gospel album DID YOU THINK TO PRAY–“Best Sacred Performance, Musical (Non-Classical)” for the album, as well as “Best Gospel Performance Other Than Soul” for the single “Let Me Live.” Later that year, his #1 crossover hit “Kiss An Angel Good Mornin’” sold over a million singles and helped him to win the Country Music Association’s “Entertainer of the Year”award and the “Top Male Vocalist” awards of 1971 and 1972. It also brought him a “Best Male Country Vocal Performance” Grammy Award in 1972. Some of Charley’s unforgettable hits from his 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s output include “All I Have To Offer You Is Me,” “Is Anybody Goin’ To San Antone,” “Amazing Love,” “Mississippi Cotton Pickin’ Delta Town,” “Burgers And Fries,” “Roll On Mississippi” and “Mountain Of Love.”
In 1993, Pride was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry, 26 years after he had first played there as a guest. In 1994, he opened the Charley Pride Theatre in Branson Missouri where he performed for 4 years, doing nearly 200 shows yearly. Also in 1994, Pride was honored by the Academy Of Country Music with its prestigious Pioneer Award. And from 1994 until 1997, Pride released several albums on the Honest Entertainment record label. In 2000, Pride was honored with an induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame. As of 2017, Charley continues to play 30 to 40 concert dates a year throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. He also performs at the Grand Ole Opry several times each year.