Charley Pride Interview

 

(CSC) 1. It is great to be here with you. Please tell us whatís new with Charley Pride?

 

(Charley Pride)

Iíve been doing the same thing Iíve always done all these years. Iím still doing my shows. As far as performing Iím with a small label, and weíre planning to release an album in the next six to eight months. Iím meeting with a man named Doug Cornette from California to discuss the details of a possible movie about my life and career. Terrence Howard was on the Oprah show recently and mentioned that he would like to play my part in the movie. My wife and I had the chance to finally meet him at the Trumpet Awards out in Las Vegas. Heís been in a lot of successful movies. The writerís strike that they had out in California threw everything back. We tried to reach an agreement before the strikes deadline, but we never got it worked out. We are going to start working on the script, and see where it ends up. Iíve got about four or five generations that Iím singing to so thatís pretty good.

 

 

(CSC) 2. You were one of eleven children. Growing up as a young man in Mississippi, what was daily life like for you and your family?

 

(Charley Pride)

It was routine in the sense that we all had chores to do. There were eight boys and three girls, and we were farmers. Weíd feed the hogs, milk the cows, and wash the dishes, but the boys didnít wash the dishes, the girls did that. We picked up chips in the evening so mama could get the fire started so we could be in the field by sun up. My dad did some haircutting when he was a barber. He did that on the side to make extra money. My mother was married previously to marrying my father. She had two children from that first marriage. It was hard work but I learned a lot from my family. My mother was very special to me. She passed away at 47 years old; she went up there to be with the master. I never thought that she would have left us that early. Maybe she had some way of knowing or believing that. She taught me never to go around with a chip on my shoulder. By him (The Lord) taking her early, she was able to watch over me while I did all these things. It made it easier for me in losing her that early in a sense. She would have been a 100 years old three days ago, had she stayed here. So I think about that all the time. That has helped me to be able to prepare myself to have the attitude to get where I am today.

 

 

(CSC) 3. Were did you get your musical influences from? Was anybody else in your family musically gifted like yourself?

 

(Charley Pride)

Actually we all sing! Matter of a fact, my younger brother is going to open my shows for me on my Canadian tour coming up in a few weeks. I took both my youngest son and my younger brother over to Ireland this past March to perform shows. It was a very successful sold out tour. It was a great opportunity to be able to perform with them overseas. I took my youngest son to Canada with me this past May, and he got a standing ovation from the audience. It was his second or third time over there with me. Heís really a beautiful singer.

 

 

(CSC) 4. Before pursuing a full-time career in the music business, you played for the Memphis Red Sox in the late 1950ís. What prompted the switch from baseball to show business?

 

(Charley Pride)

Well back then, if you werenít in the majors by the time you were 25, you were scratched off the list. I had a few injuries but I made it to the Angels in 1961, I just didnĎt stay with them. There were only sixteen clubs when I was coming along, and now there are twenty six, there are some good ball players on each club, but itís got to be a little deluded nowadays.      

 

 

(CSC) 5. Iíd like to go back a few years to the early days of your singing career. What was the most challenging part of being a NEW artist in the Nashville community?

 

(Charley Pride)

Iíd say trying to keep the butterflies as low as possible. (Laughs) In the beginning, a lot of people thought I must have had it hard, but I really didnít. I never heard any derogatory remarks from my audiences; when I would tell that to the reporters that would look at me as if I was lying. So I would start to name off my achievements and accomplishments, starting with my #1 singles that Iíve had, being second to Elvis Presley for selling the most records on RCA (Thatís not my saying, thatís RCAís figures), my star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and being a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Back then I would stop there, but now I can say that Iím a part of the Hall of Fame. I was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000. I asked the reporters, ďWhat would it benefit me to sit here and lie? If they had called me the ďNĒ word every time I went onstage, Iím a success. So why should I lie?Ē They would ask me, ďWhy do you think that, or feel that way?Ē Iíd tell them that Iíve always felt that I was an American, whatever I would say or do, and that has always been my belief. Once I opened my mouth, I shocked a lot of people because they put my words with a white face. After I would come out and start singing, they couldnít care if I was green or purple, because they were letting me be what Iíve always believed I was; an American singing country music with a more permanent tan than anyone else had.

 

 

(CSC) 6. Youíve been given numerous awards that have been voted on by your fans, and your peers; which one is more important to you and why?

 

(Charley Pride)

I was just talking about that this morning when I boarded my flight. That thought occurred to me because I usually say all of them, but I think I can narrow it down to what I told you earlier about the lack of derogatory remarks from my audiences out of my entire career and all its successes. I think that is the best feeling that I can think of. By people not doing the things that they thought should have happened in terms of that part of it. Iím appreciative of everything that Iíve ever received. I think Iím going to put that at the top of the list.

 

 

(CSC) 7. Being that you possess a versatile singing voice, Iíd like to ask why did you decide to sing country music rather then any other genre of music?

 

(Charley Pride)

Thatís been asked a lot and I believe in America. We have three basic ingredients in American music, and thatís country, gospel, and the blues. Not necessarily in that order but each one is borrowed from the other over the years and everything that came after those three basics is where we are. This country didnít start off with Bach and Beethoven, it started off with those three basic things. When RCA let me go I made a pop-influenced album in the studio and it was a huge success in New Zealand and Australia. They really loved it over there. Itís been about twenty years since I made that album. I enjoy listening to B.B. King and some of his blues songs. I believe that I could do justice to pop music, gospel, and the blues if I wanted to sing them, but I donít believe I could do it as much justice as I would in country music. When I bought myself a Sears Roebuck guitar I emulated all the locals and Grand Ole Opry stars. I was born about fifty-five miles below Memphis, TN. We used to visit there often with our family.

 

 

(CSC) 8. You joined the Grand Ole Opry on May 1st, 1993. Please tell me about the evening of your induction, and what does it mean to you to be a part of the Grand Ole Opry family?

 

(Charley Pride)

Well I had been playing the Opry since 1967, but itís different when you become a member, because you become family with all the big stars that have played there before, itís a great feeling. I had a standing invitation to join the Opry since 1967, but they had a requirement that you had to play twenty six Saturdayís per year, and those were the best days where you could draw and make your money out on the road. You werenít making that much when I was starting out. (Laughs) I made about a nickel a single from RCA, and a hundred to two hundred dollars for a gig on the road. So at that time, it was an economical thing for me, and I didnít argue with it. Country music basically is known for that factor, itís like a family, all for one and one for all. ItĎs not that way now as much, but it was back when I came along.

 

 

(CSC) 9. Speaking of the Grand Ole Opry, who are some fellow Opry members youíve had the opportunity to become good friends with throughout the years?

 

(Charley Pride)

Hank Williams, Roy Acuff, Eddie Arnold, and Minnie Pearl are just a few of the greats Iíve had the opportunity to meet and work with throughout the many years Iíve been a part of the Grand Ole Opry. All those people were such great entertainers, and wonderful people to be around. I am very grateful to have known them. They are all greatly missed.

 

 

(CSC) 10. Youíve traveled internationally for many years bringing country music to a whole new audience! What are some of your favorite countries to visit, and how do the country music fans overseas compare to American county music fans?

 

(Charley Pride)

It really depends on the degree of response. Ireland would have to be at the top of the list as far as response. ďCrystal ChandelierĒ was released over there about three or four times, and itís like the National Anthem over there. I had no idea about Northern Ireland or the republic of Ireland, and what it really entailed to that effect at the time I was performing over there. No matter where I perform over there, we always receive great enthusiasm and appreciation! Iím a very fortunate entertainer. There arenít too many artists out there that have had more signature songs than I have.         

 

 

(CSC) 11. Your son Dion has performed with you on previous occasions. Do you plan to record with him in the near future?

 

(Charley Pride)

We recorded a song back in 1981 when he was about 19 years old and it was called ďTennessee Girl.Ē I bring him onstage during my shows to perform the song with me and he always receives standing ovations from the audience. Itís amazing because we have sold-out shows, and to share that with my son is very special to me.      

 

 

(CSC) 12. Your voice is timeless, and sounds no different from the day you began in the business. With constant touring and recording, how do you maintain your voice?

 

(Charley Pride)

I think I was born with it, and itís a blessing. I grew up in Mississippi and my cousin and I used to use our voice when we younger as signals; you know like they do in the jungles of Africa with the drums and the noise. I used to curl my voice and use the high pitches, and I could imitate anything I wanted to do with it. I once won a contest imitating different sounds. I never had any trouble with hoarseness or anything. I can get out of bed, grab a guitar, and start singing. I donít have to warm up or anything. These artists today do vocal warm-ups before their shows and have routines like that to get their voices ready, Iíve never needed to do that. I do test myself in the shower, Iíll sing sometimes to check out my voice just to make sure it sounds right. I had an operation on my right vocal cord, and I lost the real low bottom note, but I can sing in four octaves.

 

 

(CSC) 13. You and your wife Rozene have been married now for over 52 years. What is your secret to a successful marriage?

 

(Charley Pride)

Iím going to say this, and itís probably the best answer that can be given. She loves me and she put up with me. I love her and I guess itís both ways, weíve put up with each other. We are so independent and so much a like, that I guess we balanced it out that way. We never argued about the things that most people argue about such as finances and money, things like that are what cause divorce. I never was going to let myself be worried about that. When I got married, I had five bucks to my name; I think she had a little more than I did. We went to the movies when we could; if we were going to go to a movie, weíd eat white beans so we could afford the movie. We never overspent our means. Sometimes I have to remind my wife that weíre not in that position anymore like we were when we first married; financially wise. (Laughs) Iím her third arm and sheís my third arm. Without her Iíd be lost all these years. The key thing was we never overspent our money, and we still donít till this day. When I first met her, I didnít want her to work. We got married in 1956, and shortly after that I bought a 1954 convertible. I told her, ďI just want you to ride around in that car and look pretty; let the wind blow through your hair.Ē Looking back now she told me that it went out the window pretty fast because sheís been working all her life. (Laughs)

 

 

(CSC) 14. What would you like to tell your fans that are reading this interview?

 

(Charley Pride)

I still love them the same as I did, even more than when I first started in the business. I am thankful for their support, and for helping me be who I am and where I am today!

 

For the latest news & touring info please visit Charley's official website here; http://www.charleypride.com