Charley Pride gets lifetime achievement award

Published 1:43 pm Thursday, January 3, 2008

JACKSON (AP) — Charley Pride, whose country music career has spanned more than 40 years, will receive a lifetime achievement award at the 2008 Governor’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts on Feb. 8.

The awards, held annually, honor individuals and organizations for outstanding work in visual, literary and performing arts, community development through the arts, and arts patronage.

“The Mississippi Arts Commission together with the Governor’s Office, is honored to celebrate this incredible group of artists, arts patrons and arts-based institutions. This year we had approximately fifty nominations, which made the selection process very difficult for the judges,” commission director Malcolm White said Wednesday in a statement.

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Other 2008 recipients are Natasha Trethewey of Gulfport, for literary excellence; Lallah Miles Perry of Jackson, for artistic excellence; Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson for Leadership in the Arts; Emma McCain of Meridian, for arts patron.

Pride, born in Sledge, Miss., has sold more than 70 million records in his career. He is best known for his million-selling crossover single “Kiss an Angel Good Morning” recorded in 1971. The song earned Pride the Country Music Association’s Top Male Vocalist and the prestigious Entertainer of the Year awards in 1972.

The only artist to sell more albums at RCA Records is fellow Mississippian Elvis Presley.

While picking cotton on his family’s farm, Pride dreamed of becoming a major league baseball player. At 14, he bought a guitar from Sears Roebuck and taught himself how to play by listening to songs on the radio.

He left home at 17 to play ball for the American Negro League, where he was a pitcher and played for Detroit, Memphis and Birmingham. In the 1950s, Pride entered the military and served two years.

In 1962 Pride was discovered in Helena, Ark. by Red Sovine and Red Foley. They helped him move to Nashville.

Pride is still performing and joins the Texas Rangers for workouts during spring training.

The Governor’s Awards ceremony is scheduled for 10 a.m. Feb. 8 at Galloway United Methodist Church in Jackson.