Entertainment, On A High Note

Charley Pride has music in his heart

PHOTO COURTESY OF WEBSTER PR

Charley Pride at 84 looks as fit as ever, with broad shoulders bolstering a hefty, but not overweight, frame. The former pro baseball pitching prospect still appears to have enough grip and grind to fire one down the middle of the strike zone, and would certainly not embarrass himself if he threw the ceremonial first pitch before a Major League game. Small wonder why the Country Music Hall of Fame member can keep up a busy touring schedule that would test the mettle of most half his age and never even hints at retiring. In fact, he has a new record to tout.

On July 7, Pride releases his first full-length studio album in six years, appropriately titled “Music in My Heart.” The record includes the title track along with his cover of Merle Haggard’s “The Way It Was in ’51” and “You Lied to Me,” written by his longtime buddy Bill Anderson. “I had never recorded a song by Bill,” he states with some amazement. “But I am happy to have one on here.”

Pride shares another reason to be pleased. Plainly speaking, he can still bring it vocally, and that’s not his assessment. He hears it from fans after every show. “People come up to me and say, ‘You haven’t lost nothing. Your voice is just as good as when you were 30 years old.’ I’m not sure about that last part,” he laughs, “but you keep hearing that and you mark it down. I’m sure people come to a show thinking, ‘What is he going to sound like after all these years?’ So, it’s nice when they tell you that they still like what you do.”

Cover art for Pride’s new album, “Music in My Heart.” PHOTO COURTESY OF WEBSTER PR

Pride maintains equal enthusiasm for his work. Recording is very much in the ball game for him, despite the notion that he hasn’t cut an album since “Choices” in 2011. “That’s not anything we meant to do deliberately,” Pride says of the gap between records. “That’s just how long it took. I like recording. They have so many digital things now in the studio and it’s just wonderful. In my time,” he continues after a pause, “the 24-track studio was the big thing.”

A purist at heart, he admits that he still prefers to “stick to the basics” when recording. “What I would love to do is cut things the way we used to at [RCA] Studio B. That’s where I wanted to cut this album, but it didn’t work out that way. I liked the studio we used, though.” The famed Studio B was home to Pride’s classic singles “All I Have to Offer You (Is Me),” which became his first No. 1 hit, “The Easy Part’s Over,” his signature tune “Kiss an Angel Good Mornin’” and many others. During the height of his career in the 1970’s and early 1980’s, Pride scored 29 No. 1 country singles, placing him in the top 10 all time.

For “Music in My Heart,” Pride includes a selection from the “Kiss An Angel Good Mornin’” writer, the late Ben Peters, “Natural Feeling for You.” Pride also includes a pair from one of his favorite writers, “Country” Johnny Mathis (as opposed to the “Chances Are” singer): the title tune and “Make Me One More Memory.” Pride recorded some early tunes by Mathis, but amazingly didn’t realize it at the time. “My producer ‘Cowboy’ Jack Clement picked every song I did,” Pride recalls. “So, a lot of times, I didn’t know who the writer was. All that mattered to me was do I like the song and is it my style. I was trying to remember if I ever met Country Johnny Mathis and I’m sure I did at some point. I have done a lot of songs by him.”

As for “The Way It Was in ’51,” Pride notes, “I didn’t know Merle wrote that. I knew he recorded it. That was one of the songs they sent to me and I liked it. They sent me about 40 songs,” he adds, “and we kept 13 on there.”

Pride has earned 29 No. 1 hits over his multi-decade career, including his signature track, “Kiss an Angel Good Mornin.'” PHOTO COURTESY OF WEBSTER PR

It has been a remarkable career for the Mississippi native, who achieved his success against the challenging and often cruelest obstacle of all, his race. He remains the only African-American to win the CMA Entertainer of the Year honor, taking home the prize in 1971. His life story would beg for a movie treatment and such a project has been rumored for some time. About six years ago, reports surfaced that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was slated to star as Pride, but that has never come to fruition.

“The movie of my life should have been made by now,” Pride concedes. “For what I have accomplished, and in the music that I have achieved it in, and the uniqueness that I am, you would think it would be a good story.” It’s a point that’s tough to argue and perhaps we’ll see that movie one day, whether on the big screen or the smaller confines of television. Until then, Pride will keep motoring along, on the road and in the studio.

Pride celebrated 50 years of entertaining in 2016 and, as such, would have every reason to slow down or hang up his touring hat altogether. But don’t place your bets on the latter. “I don’t want to retire,” he says flatly. “We try to do about 45 dates a year, and we still go to Canada and England and places like that. I am blessed to have this new album out, and I like what has come out of this record. I think it is traditional Charley Pride.” No need to ask for anything more.

23 Comments

  1. I AM 87 YRS OLD AND STILL ENJOY ALL OF CHARLIE P[RTIDES MUSIC; HE IS A VERY TALENTED COJUNTRY SINGER , GOD BLESS HIM ASND MANY MORE YREARS WKITHJ MANY MOLRE GOOD SONGS’;

  2. Marnie White.

    Always loved Charley Pride’s music, I live in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia and always so badly wanted to meet him and have a picture taken with him, never missed a concert when he came to Sydney, NS, now I always thought he was born in 1938, guess one of us is incorrect because he would be 79 not 84, sure hope he returns here for another concert !!!

  3. Bev Seitz

    Great Mam!! Love your music,,,

  4. Marcella Reed

    I have loved Charley Pride Pride from the first time I ever
    heard him and even before I ever saw him. Did get to see
    and shake hands with him 1 time in Nashville, Tenn. We
    was there for the National Quartet Convention, at a
    restaurant-hotel and he came in and I got to meet and talk to him a few minutes. That was a thrill fo me.

  5. joanne c fulton

    one great singer looking awesome at the age of 84 dam

  6. i have been to see Charlie pride many times, and he never fails to deliver, what a man , what a voice, i bought my first Charlie Pride LP when i was 19 years old, iam now 4 months away from 70, and i still love charlies music as much today, as i did back then, Thankyou CHARLIE PRIDE, for your wonderful music, jean, N, Ireland..

  7. Charlie,
    We have loved everything you ever sang. We saw you in Janesville, Wisconsin, when you first began your career. You came out and said ” If you folks will overlook my color, I’d like to sing for you.” Iy was an unnecessary thing to say, but you won us over that night. We also shook your hand after your performance in Madison, Wisconsin, It was at the Holiday Inn.

  8. Richard Stubblefield

    God bless you, Charley. You were my mom’s all time favorite and will always be mine. Through the years, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing you in concert a total of seven times in the Bay Area. On on such occasion, when I took Mom one of your shows at the Circle Star Theatre, my mom had baked an apple pie for you which was delivered to your dressing room. I would love to see your show one more time and meet you to say thanks be for the great music and memories.

  9. Lucy Grittman

    Would love to attend one of Charley Prides concerts if he ever comes to Oregon!!

  10. JANET KITCHENER

    Charley you are the best ever Country singer there ever was and your new album Music in my heart is great well done for having Billy Yates producing it too! It would be good if you and Billy could cross the pond to the UK together and do a show or two!

  11. Nannette E. Bennett

    What an amazing Man !! Such wonderful songs ! Have loved them for Years. I will be 67 this tear and have enjoyed listening to Him ! Bless You Charley Pride !! Wish i had known about Your Music concerts in the hills . I understand they were in Pa . and free for the listening ! I would have come to listen !!

  12. Gordon Hirsche

    I have been listening to Charlie Pride since the first of his recordings were broadcast over KMON Radio in Great Falls, Montana in 1966. He was a great singer then and I saw him at three live concerts here in Calgary and Lethbridge Alberta about 10 years ago. He still sounds as good and has the same power in his voice that he ever did. Keep on singing Charlie, I hope to see you in concert again someday.

  13. DaleKaren Fitzner

    We listen to your CD’s every time we are in the vehicle, and have seen you perform twice. We are thrilled to hear that there will be even more to listen to now! Best wishes for many more albums so all your lol fans can have even more to listen to!!

  14. Vic Tytherleigh

    Keep going Charlie your a legend

  15. Gene Davis

    Charley still sounds great and I hope he gets the attention he deserves with this album and all those great years. Its always been about the music with Charley, that’s why so many of his fans love him

  16. Betty E

    Love Charley Pride. I had all his LPs.
    Would love to see him in concert….in the past few months I’ve seen John Conlee, age 70, and Ronnie Milsap, age 74….these guys are all amazing to still be on tour.

  17. Jacquie Cox

    I grew up listening to Charlie Pride and his music will always be special.

  18. Charlene

    I miss seeing and listening to him

  19. Mike borror

    Whisk you would come to jamboree in the hills in ohio

  20. Seth n Kathy Strinni

    You’ve always been one of my favorites. I love. HIGH ON A MOUNTAIN. ON OUR HONEYMOON BACK IN 1993..WE were able to go to Las Vegas no money so we walked the strip. Walked into a diner and there you were. Singing. . We were able to speak with you briefly…and then you signed our tank tops. WOW. WE STILL HAVE THEM. AND CHARLEY PRIDE STILL READS PROUDLY!!!

  21. Blanche

    Love to hear him sing .wish he would make a gospel recording with Look For Me T Jesus Feet

  22. Linda Hobbs

    Great voice! Love Charley Pride’s music, my husband did too!

  23. Love Charley Pride also love the old Gospel

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