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Pride — a pioneer for Black musicians in country music — died in Dallas, Texas, at the age of 86, a statement on his website confirmed.
"I’m so heartbroken that one of my dearest and oldest friends, Charley Pride, has passed away. It’s even worse to know that he passed away from COVID-19. What a horrible, horrible virus. Charley, we will always love you," Parton, 74, wrote on Twitter.
"Rest In Peace. My love and thoughts go out to his family and all of his fans," she added.
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In a tribute to Pride, Morris, 30, brought up the Country Music Awards, which was held in person last month and was where Pride made his final public appearance. Pride was honored with the lifetime achievement award from Jimmie Allen at this year's show.
"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," she wrote. "Rest in power, Charley."
The Country Music Association shared a statement on Twitter after news of Pride's death. "We are deeply saddened by the passing of trailblazing legend Charley Pride, who through talent, courage & determination, made history by becoming the genre’s first Black superstar. We send our condolences to his family during this difficult time," the statement read.
"To say Country Music has lost a trailblazer is an obvious understatement, but in fact one of the biggest losses is Charley’s definitive Country voice. I remember working with Charley in 2009 on 'Country Music: In Performance at the White House' when President and Michelle Obama invited several Country artists to perform. He was a trailblazer in so many ways. It was a special night and Charley was telling amazing stories. Our deepest condolences go out to his wife Rozene and the rest of his family and friends at this sad time," said Sarah Trahern, Country Music Association CEO, in a statement.
Aldean, 43, honored Pride as "one of our legends in Country Music."
"I can’t imagine what this man went through as a Black Country Music artist trying to break into this business, but what a career he had," he wrote on Instagram. " I grew up such a fan of his music and his voice and he will be greatly missed by all of us. RIP Mr. Charley Pride"
Darius Rucker paid tribute to Pride on Twitter, writing: "My heart is so heavy. Charley Pride was an icon a legend and any other word u wanna use for his greatness. He destroyed Barriers and did things that no one had ever done. But today I’m thinking of my friend. Heaven just got one of the finest people I know. I miss and love u CP!"
Reba McEntire shared similar sentiments about Pride's contribution to the music industry.
"Charley Pride will always be a legend in Country music. He will truly be missed but will always be remembered for his great music, wonderful personality and his big heart," she wrote on Instagram. "My thoughts are with his wife Rozene and their family. RIP, Charley."
Meanwhile, Luke Combs recalled meeting Pride during one of his performances at the Grand Old Opry.
"I was in awe of his presence and his talent," he wrote. "So saddened by the news of his passing. He was a true legend and trailblazer. His impact on our genre and generations of artists will never be forgotten. Rip"
"I met Charley Pride when I was 15. He gave his home phone number to my dad, and said “I’d love to help your son.” And help he did. I am so blessed to have had so many memories with him," Paisley wrote. "I’m devastated. You changed country music for the better, Charley. And you changed this kid’s life. We love you."
Billy Ray Cyrus shared an image of the last time he spoke to Pride, whom he called his "good friend and legend."
"We met in ‘92 playing shows together in Australia. His beloved sweetheart Rosie by his side. A gentleman... legend and true trail blazer. With much respect #RIP," Cyrus wrote.
With top hits including “Kiss an Angel Good Morning” and “Is Anybody Goin' to San Antone,” Pride became the first Black member of the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000.
He was born in Mississippi in 1934 as the son of a sharecropper. After a brief time serving in the Army and some unsuccessful attempts at becoming a professional baseball player, Pride headed to Nashville in the 1960s.
In addition to earning three Grammy Awards during his career, he took home the entertainer of the year award at the 1971 Country Music Awards and won male vocalist of the year both that year and in 1972. In 1975, he became the first Black man to host the Country Music Association Awards.
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