Charley Pride

Charley Pride Statue Added to Ryman Auditorium Icon Walk – Billboard

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Ryman Auditorium in Nashville unveiled the latest addition to its Icon Walk on Thursday (April 13) – a bronze statue honoring Charley Pride. Pride’s statue joins likenesses of Loretta Lynn, Bill Monroe and Little Jimmy Dickens.

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All four artists are in the Country Music Hall of Fame. Monroe, often called the father of bluegrass music, has also been voted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as an early influence. In 1971, Pride became the first Black artist to win the CMA Award for entertainer of the year. The following year, Lynn became the first woman to win that top award.

The Icon Walk was created as a way to honor those who have made significant contributions to the historic venue and to Nashville.

Rozene Pride, the singer’s widow (they were married for more than 60 years), and their son Dion Pride attended the unveiling.

“He has often been called the Jackie Robinson of country music,” Rozene shared. “The only difference was Jackie Robinson was picked for the role. Pride picked country music because he loved it and that was his life.”

“He loved his fans – in fact, his fans drove him,” Dion added. “All of you drove him. You are the reason why he was the success he was. Everything he did was for you.”

“Charley Pride broke barriers and defied stereotypes, becoming one of the most successful and beloved country music artists of all time,” said Ryman Hospitality Properties executive chairman Colin Reed.

Visitors can find Pride’s statue at the northwest corner of the building next to the likenesses of Lynn and Monroe. Dickens’ statue stands atop the Ryman’s main steps, greeting ticket holders and tour-takers as they arrive. Artist Ben Watts, who created the three previous statues, also did the honors on Pride’s statue.

Charley Pride

A general view of the bronze, life-sized Charley Pride statue at Ryman Auditorium on April 12, 2023 in Nashville.

Jason Davis/GI

Pride amassed 29 No. 1 hits on Billboard’s Hot Country Singles chart (now called Hot Country Songs), from “All I Have to Offer You (Is Me)” in August 1969 to “Night Games” in September 1983. His longest-running No. 1 (five weeks) was 1971’s “Kiss an Angel Good Morning,” a crossover hit that helped Pride land back-to-back CMA Awards for male vocalist of the year in 1971 and 1972. Pride is also a three-time Grammy winner and a Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award recipient.

Pride is credited with helping break color barriers by becoming country music’s first Black superstar. His influence was seen in the ACM Awards nominations, announced today, in which Kane Brown is nominated for entertainer of the year and male artist of the year, and the Americana duo The War & Treaty is nominated for duo of the year.

A member of the Grand Ole Opry, Pride received the CMA’s Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award in November 2020.

Barely a month later, on Dec. 12, 2020, Pride died at the age of 86 from complications due to COVID-19. In 2021, CMT celebrated his life and impact with CMT Giants: Charley Pride.



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