Garth Brooks recalls Charley Pride with RIAA Lifetime Achievement Award
“Mountain of love”. “Kiss an angel hello.” “Is anyone going to San Antone?” “
On stage at the National Museum of African American Music, Garth Brooks sat down with an acoustic guitar and revisited these songs – all made famous by the late Charley Pride – as vividly as his own work.
But in Brooks’ estimation, as much as he loved these songs, some of them were out of his league. He marveled at the vocal range Pride had on “Roll On Mississippi” and lifted the key so he could hit the low notes.
“You try to sing his stuff,” he said. “Good luck, Hoss.”
It was a respectful, funny and very musical Monday night in Nashville as Brooks and the Recording Industry Association of America came together to remember Pride – the first black country music superstar – and present her family with an award for all of its achievements.
Pride passed away in 2020 at the age of 86, leaving a legacy that includes 29 No.1 hits, an induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame, and worldwide recognition as a pioneer of black country music artists.
His son Dion Pride accepted the award and said his father’s accomplishments were a by-product of his “pure love” for country music.
“He just loved what he was doing,” he said. “… But for me as a son, I’m more impressed with the man. My dad was a big, big man.”
While Brooks praised many classic Pride songs, there was a recent one that was particularly personal to him: “Where The Cross Don’t Burn,” which he and Pride recorded together three months before his death.
As Brooks previously explained, the collaboration came after he thought he had lost the chance to work with Pride forever. He had seen a fake report of the singer’s death on social media, and after learning it wasn’t true, he immediately called him.
“Cross” was included on Brooks’ 2020 album, “Fun”. Three weeks after its release, Pride passed away.
“If Charley Pride stood here today it would mean the same to me,” Brooks told the Tennessean before taking the stage.
“But I’m going to be honest with you… when you get a chance to (collaborate), and then so quickly afterwards, you don’t? You sit there and thank your lucky stars. You feel like when you relate. to your kids, your grandkids, some of the coolest things you have to do in this business? There’s no way you can tell this list without Charley.
He remembered the man he had known at the Country Music Hall of Fame events, as they were often seated next to each other. Pride gave him a slap and burst into the opening bars of Brooks’ “That Summer”, and he would always remember his birthday and his star sign – as he did with all his friends.
“Where the Cross Don’t Burn” tells the story of a friendship between “a white boy and an old black man,” and Brooks said he liked the way the lyrics evolve into “a young boy and a nice old man ”in the Chorus finale.
“The answer to everything is always love,” he said. “It’s patience. It’s listening. It’s tolerance.”
“And there isn’t a man who has walked,” he added, pointing to an image of Pride projected on the wall, “better than this cat here.”
Brooks’ conversation with Vanderbilt University songwriter, songwriter and faculty member Alice Randall also spoke of Pride’s persistence and courage.
“I’d like you to make sure we understand this whole statement, not just half of it,” he told the audience. “It doesn’t matter that Charley Pride was black. It mattered so much that Charley Pride was black. Both statements. Was most proud of that. It’s one of the many things that made me love him and made me love him. made you want to look more like Charley Pride. “
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