Charley Pride, who died on Dec. 12 of coronavirus complications at age 86, recalled breaking barriers as one of the most prolific Black country artists backstage at the Country Music Awards on Nov. 11.
The "Kiss the Angel Good Mornin'" singer, who was joined onstage by Jimmie Allen, spoke to E! News in the virtual press room at the awards show about how he wasn't the only groundbreaking Black artist at the time paving the way in the music genre.
"People say, so how does it feel to make a pathway for country music Black singers? I said, well, it's fine with me. But they've been saying it to me like that, but we had big Al Downings, we had Stoney Edwards. A guy came, and he was a doctor, he started when I first got out…what was his name? Cleve Francis! I worked with him," explained Pride. "So, I have been given credit for breaking paths for the people that look like one of us."
Earlier in the night, Charley—the first Black member of the Country Music Hall of Fame—and Jimmie performed Charley's song "Kiss the Angel Good Mornin'" at the award show. The "Big Shot" singer then presented the 86-year-old icon with the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award at the CMAs.
"Well, you might not believe but I'm nervous as can be," Pride said onstage while accepting the award. "All the people have been influenced by my life, what my life has been influenced by, I got to say something about some of them."
Of the late country artist Jack Clement, he said, "This man, I've always been awed by, and I still am. My wife Roseanne and I would go and visit him. In fact, last time we visited before he passed away. He always said, 'Rozene, you're so pretty.' I never have forgotten that."