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Charley Pride Finds A Home In The Smithsonian


Charley Pride
Paul Hawthorne, Getty Images

After becoming friends with Charley over the years, playing his music countless times and introducing him on stage at places like The South Dakota State Fair, I’m excited to tell you this story. And I’m proud to say that I have a friend that’s in the Smithsonian!

Charley grew up the son of sharecroppers in Mississippi and became one of country music’s biggest stars. Now the Smithsonian in Washington has acquired memorabilia from Charley Pride’s life, including a pair of boots and one of his guitars, for the upcoming National Museum of African American History and Culture.

He says it was difficult to part with some of the items, but it’s nice to know that they will be in a museum where he can always go visit. Dwan Reece, the museum’s curator of music and performing arts, says Pride is “a great example of a man transcending the barriers of race who was accepted by audiences because he was a good country singer.”

In August 1969, he scored his first number 1 hit with “All I Have To Offer You Is Me”. And that was historic because it marked the fist time a black vocalist would top the country charts.

One of my most memorable moments in my business was one time about 10 years ago when Charley stopped in the middle of a show and addressed the audience, which I was part of, and said he wanted to thank Mark Tassler and KXRB Radio. If I live to be 100 years old, that moment will never be forgotten!

Pride Pride, at 78, is still touring and heads to Ireland this month and the U.K. next month. He has three Grammy Awards, dozens of No. 1 hits and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000. The Smithsonian new museum is scheduled to open in 2015.

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