The trailblazing artist — who has scored 29 No. 1s on Billboard‘s Hot Country Songs chart — follows such recipients as Kenny Rogers (2013), Johnny Cash (2015), Dolly Parton (2016), Kris Kristofferson (2019) and, of course, Nelson himself (2012).
The Country Music Association bestows the award on an artist who has reached the highest levels in country music as a performer and humanitarian.
“Charley Pride is the epitome of a trailblazer,” says Sarah Trahern, CMA CEO. “Few other artists have grown country music’s rich heritage and led to the advancement of country music around the world like Charley. His distinctive voice has created a timeless legacy that continues to echo through the country community today. We could not be more excited to honor Charley with one of CMA’s highest accolades.”
Though a number of African-American artists had made strides in country music before, including such pioneers as DeFord Bailey, Pride was country music’s first Black superstar, scoring such classics as “Is Anybody Goin’ to San Antone” (1970), “Kiss an Angel Good Mornin’” (1971) and “All I Have to Offer You (Is Me)” (1969).
Pride was named CMA entertainer of the year in 1971 and was the first Black man to co-host the CMA Awards in 1975, with Glen Campbell. The three-time Grammy winner was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 1993 and the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000.
The 54th annual CMA Awards, hosted by Reba McEntire and Darius Rucker, will air Nov. 11 on ABC at 8 p.m. ET.