Groundbreaking Country Music Pioneer Charley Pride Joined Dan Rather for The Big Interview
Beloved Country music pioneer Charley Pride sat down with Dan Rather for THE BIG INTERVIEW. During the candid hour-long conversation, the Grammy-winning singer opened up about his early life as one of 11 children, picking cotton in the fields of the Mississippi Delta, as well as his introduction to music, the songs that inspired him, and his first guitar.
Growing up in the Mississippi Delta, Pride had a childhood that was much different from those of his modern contemporaries. Pride describes his early life saying, "I learned that you had to share a lot, and [that] you bang one another upside the head a lot, and try to get a biscuit before the other one. We lived in what we called a 'shotgun house', and there was a bed over on this side and a bed over on this side, and we'd sleep three and four to a bed. I remember sometimes I'd wake up and my brother's toes were right in my nose. We grew up on a farm, and we all had something to do. In the evenings, either me or my brother would go get real dry chips [so] my mother could start the fire in the morning prior to us going and chopping the cotton... I walked four miles to school and four miles back. That's where I grew up."
On the first music that he heard as a child, Pride says, "My mom and dad liked Gospel music, so they used to listen to the Five Blind Boys from both Alabama and Mississippi." But, Pride reveals that one of the songs from his childhood that still sticks out to him is the classic Hank Williams hymn "I'll Have A New Body (I'll Have A New Life)." He was also exposed to music from Bill Monroe, his father's favorite bluegrass singer. It's one of the sentimental reasons that Pride included Monroe's song "Mansions For Me" on Pride & Joy: A Gospel Music Collection, his 2006 studio album.
Primarily known as a singer, Pride says his introduction to the guitar was anything but smooth. Reminiscing about his first guitar, Pride says, "My mother ordered me a guitar for 14 bucks from Sears Roebuck... we got it over in the evening... and I left it in the wagon and it rained. It was just glued together, you know. It was called Silvertone. I kept trying to tune it, and it just kept bowing and bowing with strings [and] the glue around it. And my mother was walking up on the porch, it was probably about 105 degrees, and she heard something go *BOOOIIIIIINNNNG*. And she said, 'Boy, you better go up there and look at your box! The rats are running over it.'"
About Charley Pride:
Charley Pride celebrates his 50th anniversary as a recording artist this year. He has enjoyed one of the most successful careers in the history of Country Music and is credited with helping to break color barriers by becoming the first African-American to become a force within the genre. A true living legend, he has sold tens of millions of records worldwide with his large repertoire of hits. A three-time Grammy Award winner, Pride has garnered no less than 36 chart-topping Country hits, including Kiss An Angel Good Morning, a massive #1 crossover hit that sold over a million singles and helped Pride land the Country Music Association's Entertainer of the Year award in 1971 and the Top Male Vocalist awards of 1971 and 1972. A proud member of the Grand Ole Opry, Pride continues to perform concerts worldwide and has toured the United States, Canada, Ireland, The United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand over the last several years.