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Maren Morris reacts to Charley Pride’s COVID-19 death

Maren Morris has reacted to the death of country music’s first black superstar Charley Pride, who succumbed to COVID-19 aged 86 this Saturday.

One month before his death he and Maren both took the stage at the Country Music Association Awards in Nashville.

‘I don’t want to jump to conclusions because no family statement has been made, but if this was a result of the CMAs being indoors, we should all be outraged. Rest in power, Charley,’ tweeted Maren, 30, on Saturday. ‘F*** this f***ing year.’

However the Country Music Association teamed up with Pride’s representatives in a statement revealing he ‘tested negative multiple times’ after the show. 

Looking fab: Maren Morris has reacted to the death of country music’s first black superstar Charley Pride, who succumbed to COVID-19 this Saturday

Onstage: One month before his death he and Maren both took the stage at the Country Music Association Awards in Nashville

Onstage: One month before his death he and Maren both took the stage at the Country Music Association Awards in Nashville

Everyone affiliated with the CMA Awards followed strict testing protocols outlined by the city health department and unions. Charley was tested prior to traveling to Nashville. He was tested upon landing in Nashville, and again on show day, with all tests coming back negative,’ the statement read. 

‘After returning to Texas following the CMA Awards, Charley again tested negative multiple times. All of us in the Country Music community are heartbroken by Charley’s passing,’ it continued.

‘Out of respect for his family during their grieving period, we will not be commenting on this further.The awards ceremony had featured a combination of pre-recorded and live performances to limit the amount of stars and crew required.’ 

With his prize: However the Country Music Association teamed up with Pride's representatives in a statement revealing he 'tested negative multiple times' after the show

With his prize: However the Country Music Association teamed up with Pride’s representatives in a statement revealing he ‘tested negative multiple times’ after the show

Most award shows have not allowed audiences since the COVID-19 pandemic but the CMA Awards had made the bold move of having tables of attendees set around the stage at what they deemed as a proper distance from one another.

There also seemed to be plenty of testing leading up to the event as Florida Georgia Line, Jenee Fleenor, Lee Brice, and others pulled out of the appearing/performing at the event due to testing positive for COVID-19 or being around someone who had. 

The band Lady A, formerly known as Lady Antebellum, dropped out of the CMA Awards just an hour before they were to begin saying that that one of their number had a family member test positive for COVID-19. 

'In power': 'I don’t want to jump to conclusions because no family statement has been made, but if this was a result of the CMAs being indoors, we should all be outraged,' Maren wrote

‘In power’: ‘I don’t want to jump to conclusions because no family statement has been made, but if this was a result of the CMAs being indoors, we should all be outraged,’ Maren wrote

Guests were required to wear masks when moving around the venue, and some stars were seen wearing clear plastic visors between performances.

Charley was presented with the lifetime achievement award that evening and also performed onstage with Jimmie Allen.

Meanwhile Maren tallied the most trophies as she dedicated her Female Vocalist of the Year win to the contributions of black women in country music.

She could be seen onstage performing her number The Bones which won awards both for best single and best song.

Across generations: Charley was presented with the lifetime achievement prize at the CMA Awards and also performed onstage with Jimmie Allen (left)

Across generations: Charley was presented with the lifetime achievement prize at the CMA Awards and also performed onstage with Jimmie Allen (left)

Triumphant: Meanwhile Maren tallied the most trophies as she dedicated her Female Vocalist of the Year win to the contributions of black women in country music

Triumphant: Meanwhile Maren tallied the most trophies as she dedicated her Female Vocalist of the Year win to the contributions of black women in country music

Pride, the first black member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, died on Saturday in Dallas of complications from COVID-19, according to Jeremy Westby of the public relations firm 2911 Media.

Pride released dozens of albums and sold more than 25 million records during a career that began in the mid-1960s.

Dolly Parton was among those to pay tribute, tweeting: ‘I’m so heartbroken that one of my dearest and oldest friends, Charley Pride, has passed away. 

‘It’s even worse to know that he passed away from COVID-19. What a horrible, horrible virus. Charley, we will always love you.’ 

Charley Pride, pictured last month after receiving his lifetime achievement award at the The 54th Annual Country Music Association Awards, died on Saturday at the age of 86

Charley Pride, pictured last month after receiving his lifetime achievement award at the The 54th Annual Country Music Association Awards, died on Saturday at the age of 86 

Pride, pictured in 1975, is remembered as a trail-blazing musician and baseball player

Pride, pictured in 1975, is remembered as a trail-blazing musician and baseball player

Pride, pictured in 2006, died from COVID-19 complications, his PR said

Pride, pictured in 2006, died from COVID-19 complications, his PR said

A son of Mississippi sharecroppers, he played minor league baseball before his musical career

A son of Mississippi sharecroppers, he played minor league baseball before his musical career

Hits besides ‘Kiss an Angel Good Morning’ in 1971 included ‘Is Anybody Goin’ to San Antone,’ ‘Burgers and Fries,’ ‘Mountain of Love,’ and ‘Someone Loves You Honey.’ 

He had three Grammy Awards, more than 30 No. 1 hits between 1969 and 1984, won the Country Music Association’s Top Male Vocalist and Entertainer of the Year awards in 1972 and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000.

The Smithsonian in Washington acquired memorabilia from Pride, including a pair of boots and one of his guitars, for the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Until the early 1990s, when Cleve Francis came along, Pride was the only black country singer signed to a major label.

In 1993, he joined the Grand Ole Opry cast in Nashville.

Pride receives his Country Music Hall of Fame plaque from Merle Haggard in October 2000

Pride receives his Country Music Hall of Fame plaque from Merle Haggard in October 2000

Pride sings during the Black Tie & Boots ball as part of the Inaugural festivities in January 2013

Pride sings during the Black Tie & Boots ball as part of the Inaugural festivities in January 2013

Pride, pictured on stage in New York in 1975, was the first black man to become a Country star

Pride, pictured on stage in New York in 1975, was the first black man to become a Country star

‘They used to ask me how it feels to be the “first colored country singer”,’ he told The Dallas Morning News in 1992. 

Pride pictured in November at the CMAs

Pride pictured in November at the CMAs

‘Then it was “first Negro country singer”; then “first black country singer.” 

‘Now I’m the “first African-American country singer.” That’s about the only thing that’s changed. 

‘This country is so race-conscious, so ate-up with colors and pigments. I call it “skin hang-ups” — it’s a disease.’

Pride was raised in Sledge, Mississippi, the son of a sharecropper. He had seven brothers and three sisters.

In 2008 while accepting a Lifetime Achievement Award as part of the Mississippi Governor’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts, Pride said he never focused on race.

‘My older sister one time said, ‘Why are you singing THEIR music?’ Pride said. 

‘But we all understand what the y’all-and-us-syndrome has been. See, I never as an individual accepted that, and I truly believe that’s why I am where I am today.’

Pride is pictured with Johnny Cash on The Johnny Cash Show in May 1970

Pride is pictured with Johnny Cash on The Johnny Cash Show in May 1970

Pride and wife Rozene in October 2000 celebrating Garth Brooks' selling 100 million albums

Pride and wife Rozene in October 2000 celebrating Garth Brooks’ selling 100 million albums

As a young man before launching his singing career, he was a pitcher and outfielder in the Negro American League with the Memphis Red Sox and in the Pioneer League in Montana.

After playing minor league baseball a couple of years, he ended up in Helena, Montana, where he worked in a zinc smelting plant by day and played country music in nightclubs at night. 

After a tryout with the New York Mets, he visited Nashville and broke into country music when Chet Atkins, head of RCA Records, heard two of his demo tapes and signed him.

To ensure that Pride was judged on his music and not his race, his first few singles were sent to radio stations without a publicity photo. 

After his identity became known, a few country radio stations refused to play his music.

For the most part, though, Pride said he was well received. Early in his career, he would put white audiences at ease when he joked about his ‘permanent tan.’

‘Music is the greatest communicator on the planet Earth,’ he said in 1992. 

‘Once people heard the sincerity in my voice and heard me project and watched my delivery, it just dissipated any apprehension or bad feeling they might have had.’

Pride sings the National Anthem before the start of Game 5 of the World Series between the Texas Rangers and the San Francisco Giants in November 2010

Pride sings the National Anthem before the start of Game 5 of the World Series between the Texas Rangers and the San Francisco Giants in November 2010

Throughout his career, he sang positive songs instead of sad ones often associated with country music.

‘Music is a beautiful way of expressing oneself and I truly believe music should not be taken as a protest,’ he told The Associated Press in 1985. 

‘You can go too far in anything — singing, acting, whatever — and become politicized to the point you cease to be an entertainer.’

In 1994, he wrote his autobiography, ‘Pride: The Charley Pride Story,’ in which he disclosed he was mildly manic depressive.

He had surgery in 1997 to remove a tumor from his right vocal cord.

He received the Living Legend award from The Nashville Network/Music City News, recognizing 30 years of achievement, in 1997.

‘I’d like to be remembered as a good person who tried to be a good entertainer and made people happy, was a good American who paid his taxes and made a good living,’ he said in 1985. 

‘I tried to do my best and contribute my part.’


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