Charley Pride

Becoming a trailblazing Country Music superstar was an improbable destiny for Charley Pride (born March 18, 1938), especially considering his humble beginnings as a sharecropper's son on a cotton farm in Sledge, Mississippi. His unique journey to the top of the music charts includes a tumultuous detour through the world of Negro league, minor league and semi-pro baseball as well as many long years of labor alongside the vulcanic fires of a smelter. But in the end, with boldness, perseverance and undeniable musical talent, he managed to parlay a series of fortuitous encounters with Nashville insiders into an amazing legacy of hit singles and tens of millions in record sales. Growing up, Charley was exposed primarily to Blues, Gospel and Country music. ...show more

Becoming a trailblazing Country Music superstar was an improbable destiny for Charley Pride (born March 18, 1938), especially considering his humble beginnings as a sharecropper's son on a cotton farm in Sledge, Mississippi. His unique journey to the top of the music charts includes a tumultuous detour through the world of Negro league, minor league and semi-pro baseball as well as many long years of labor alongside the vulcanic fires of a smelter. But in the end, with boldness, perseverance and undeniable musical talent, he managed to parlay a series of fortuitous encounters with Nashville insiders into an amazing legacy of hit singles and tens of millions in record sales. Growing up, Charley was exposed primarily to Blues, Gospel and Country music.

His father inadvertently fostered Charley's love of Country music by tuning the family's Philco radio to Nashville's WSM-AM in order to catch Grand Ole Opry broadcasts. At 14 years of age, Charley purchased his first guitar--a Silvertone from a Sears Roebuck catalog--and taught himself how to play it by listening to the songs that he heard on that radio. By the age of 16, Charley began emerging as a talented baseball player. He first played organized games in the Iowa State League and then professional games in the Negro American League as a pitcher and outfielder for the Memphis Red Sox.

In 1953, he signed a contract with the Boise Yankees, the Class C farm team of the New York Yankees. But during that season an injury hampered his pitching. He was first sent to the Yankees' Class D team in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin and then released. Over the next several years, Charley rejoined the Memphis Red Sox, moved to the Louisville Clippers and then was traded, along with another player, to the Birmingham Black Barons for a used bus. ...show less