By Ron Wynn
NASHVILLE, TN — Modern country music’s first Black superstar now has his own statue on the Ryman Walk of Fame.
Last Wednesday his statue was unveiled in a ceremony attended by both his widow Rozene and son Dion, along with other celebrities and special guests as well as Ryman Properties Executive Chairman Colin Reed.
Reed praised Pride as a trailblazer who defied stereotypes and excelled over obstacles.
Rozene Pride pointed out that unlike Jackie Robinson, who was chosen to integrate major league baseball by Branch Rickey, her husband chose country music and loved it. His groundbreaking role notwithstanding, he was simply performing the music he loved.
Born in Sledge, Mississippi, Charley Pride flirted with dreams of baseball success before opting for a career in country music. For many years after becoming a country icon, Pride would spend spring training working out with the Angels.
Among his many accomplishments, Pride remains the only Black artist to win CMA honors as Male Vocalist of the Year and Entertainer of the Year.
He became the second Black member of the Grand Ole Opry, and is also a Country Music Hall of Famer.
His bronze statue joins those of Loretta Lynn, Bill Monroe and Little Jimmy Dickens on the Ryman Walk of Fame.
Pride passed in 2020 at age 86 of COVID-19 complications.