African-American country singer Charley Pride, whose No. 1 country hits included “All I Have to Offer You (Is Me)” and “Kiss an Angel Good Mornin,’” died on Saturday at age 86 of complications from COVID-19, according to his website.
Pride, who died in Dallas, was not the first Black artist to make important contributions to country music, but he was a trailblazer who emerged during a time of division and rancor. Between 1967 and 1987, Pride delivered 52 Top 10 country hits, won Grammy awards and became RCA Records’ top-selling country artist, according to the website.
The Mississippi native picked cotton, served in the U.S. Army and played baseball in the Negro league before moving to Nashville, becoming the first Black country star. He joined the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000, Rolling Stone magazine said.
“I’m so heartbroken that one of my dearest and oldest friends, Charley Pride, has passed away,” country music star Dolly Parton said on Twitter. “It’s even worse to know that he passed away from COVID-19. What a horrible, horrible virus. Charley, we will always love you,” (Writing by Nick Zieminski in New York; Editing by Dan Grebler)