An extended Director’s Cut of the all-new PBS documentary about the life and career of legendary Country music superstar Charley Pride will make its first public showing at 7 p.m. on Friday, February 8 at Franklin Theatre.
American Masters – Charley Pride: I’m Just Me makes its’ network premiere on Feb. 22.
Immediately following the Franklin Theatre showing will be a hosted Q&A with the film’s director, Barbara Hall, those featured in the film; Lloyd Green and Craig Havighurst, and Dr. Bennett from the National Museum of African American Music (NMAAM). Proceeds from the event will benefit the National Museum of African American Music. For more information, and to buy tickets, click here.
American Masters – Charley Pride: I’m Just Me traces the improbable journey of Charley Pride, from his humble beginnings as a sharecropper’s son on a cotton farm in segregated Sledge, Mississippi to his career as a Negro League baseball player and his meteoric rise as a trailblazing country music superstar. The new documentary reveals how Pride’s love for music led him from the Delta to a larger, grander world. In the 1940s, radio transcended racial barriers, making it possible for Pride to grow up listening to and emulating Grand Ole Opry stars like Ernest Tubb and Roy Acuff. The singer arrived in Nashville in 1963 while the city roiled with sit-ins and racial violence. But with boldness, perseverance and undeniable musical talent, he managed to parlay a series of fortuitous encounters with music industry insiders into a legacy of hit singles, a Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award and a place in the Country Music Hall of Fame.
The film includes original interviews with country music royalty, including Garth Brooks, Dolly Parton, Brad Paisley, Darius Rucker and Marty Stuart. It also includes several on-camera conversations between Pride and special guests, including Rozene Pride (his wife of 61 years), Willie Nelson, and other fellow musicians. The film also features many songs from his repertoire of classic country hits, along with more modern cuts like “Standing In My Way,” from his latest album Music In My Heart, released in 2017.
“At a time when African-American singers were more notable for R&B hits, Charley Pride followed his passion for country music, overcoming obstacles through determination and raw talent to make a lasting impact on the genre and create a legacy that continues today,” said Michael Kantor, executive producer of American Masters. “We are honored to share the inspiring, and largely untold, story of this barrier-breaking performer with viewers nationwide.”
• Charley Pride
• Garth Brooks
• Dolly Parton
• Willie Nelson
• Tanya Tucker
• Whoopi Goldberg
• Darius Rucker
• Marty Stuart
• Sylvia Hutton
• Charlie Worsham
• Jimmie Allen
“Helping shine a light Charley Pride’s story, struggles and incredible musical talent through this documentary represents the kinds of stories our museum wants to tell,” said H. Beecher Hicks III, CEO and president of NMAAM. “He’s truly a one-of-a-kind, trailblazing artist whose place in our nation’s and our culture’s musical history is undeniable.”
• Eighteen-year-old Charley Pride made his debut in the Negro American League as a pitcher-outfielder for the Memphis Red Sox in 1952.
• Charley Pride was drafted into the army in 1956 and served 14 months in Colorado. While in the military, he played on the baseball team and sang in the barracks.
• After Chet Atkins signed Pride to RCA, his third single, “Just Between You and Me,” reached the top 10 on the country music charts in 1967. The singer received his first Grammy nomination, for Best Country & Western Vocal Performance, Male, for the song.
• Charley Pride first appeared on the Grand Ole Opry radio show in 1967. When he was inducted as an Opry member in 1993, he became the first African-American Opry member since DeFord Bailey, who had been a regular member from 1927 until 1941. Pride celebrated the 25th anniversary of his induction into the Grand Ole Opry in 2018.
• Charley Pride won Entertainer of the Year and Male Vocalist of the Year at the Country Music Association (CMA) Awards in 1971.
• Charley Pride committed to an extensive tour of the U.K. in 1976, including several dates in Northern Ireland during the peak of the Troubles conflict. Because of the risks, international music acts were routinely avoiding Belfast. Pride’s November 1976 appearance at Belfast’s Ritz Cinema brought the community together and he became a hero to both sides of the conflict for helping to break the informal touring ban of Northern Ireland. This resulted in “Crystal Chandeliers” being considered a unity song.
• In 2000, Charley Pride was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
• The Recording Academy honored Charley Pride with a Lifetime Achievement Award during the GRAMMY Salute to Music Legends awards ceremony and tribute concert event in 2017.
• His latest album, Music In My Heart, was released in 2017 on Music City Records.