Mickey Guyton never had the opportunity to meet Charley Pride in person but she says his groundbreaking role as a black singer of country music helped her to have her own career in Nashville. Pride died Saturday from complications related to Covid-19.
“Charley Pride means the world to me. His voice and his bravery made it possible for me to be able to have a career in country music,” Guyton tells Rolling Stone. “The fact that he was a Black man in country music resonated with me more than any particular song. His music moved people.”
With her own song “Black Like Me,” about her experiences as a black woman in an America still plagued by racism, Guyton has been doing what Pride did more than 50 years ago: compelling country music listeners to confront their own prejudices. Guyton says that’s one way for artists to honor Pride’s memory.
“Artists can further his legacy by daring to be seen and bravely taking risks,” she says. “Continue to make music that moves people like Charley did.”
Pride, known for such country hits as “Is Anybody Going to San Antone,” “(I’m So) Afraid of Losing You Again,” and “Does My Ring Hurt Your Finger,” gave his last public performance at the November 11th CMA Awards in Nashville, singing “Kiss an Angel Good Mornin’.” According to a statement from the family, Pride was hospitalized for Covid-19 complications in “late November.” He died in Dallas, Texas, at 86.