Charley Pride overcame racial barriers as country music star

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Charley Pride wasn’t the first Black country music artist, but he reached heights not available to other Black pioneers.

While early Opry stars like DeFord Bailey paved the way, Pride’s talent put him on par with his white peers, including Willie Nelson, Glen Campbell and Merle Haggard.

His hits included “Kiss an Angel Good Morning” and “Is Anybody Goin’ to San Antone.”

The son of a sharecropper in Sledge, Mississippi, Pride initially turned to baseball as a way to a better life.

After playing in the Negro American League, he broke into country music when Chet Atkins, head of RCA Records, heard his demos.

He died in Dallas of complications from COVID-19 at the age of 86.