*Perhaps the timing of this happening after a summer of racial reckoning across the nation was coincidental, but country music legend Charley Pride finally got his due at the CMA Awards Wednesday night with a long overdue lifetime achievement award.
The 86-year-old broke barriers as the first major Black star in a genre that still counts very few folks of color. Pride accepted his award from current African American country star Jimmie Allen during Wednesday night’s live, televised ceremony.
Before accepting his award, Pride performed his renowned track “Kiss an Angel Good Morning” and was joined by Allen for a duet, as artists like Luke Combs and Eric Church sang along in the audience. Watch below:
“Well, you might not believe but I’m nervous as can be,” Pride said as he accepted the award. “All the people have been influenced by my life, what my life has been influenced by, I got to say something about some of them.”
“This man I’ve always been awed by, and I still am,” he said of the late Jack Clement. “My wife Roseanne and I would go and visit him. In fact, last time we visited before he passed away. He always said, ‘Roseanne, you’re so pretty.’ I never have forgotten that.”
He also thanked Jerry Bradley and John Daines, who was his road manager for 37 years.
“All my fans, I want to say thank you,” he said. “Well, I’m through talking. I just want to thank everybody again. Like I said, I’m nervous.”
Watch below or here on Twitter:
We couldn’t be happier for Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, Mr. Charley Pride. Watch the legend’s acceptance speech! ❤️ pic.twitter.com/e7KykPNBMA
— CMA Country Music (@CountryMusic) November 12, 2020
After the show, Allen told People.com what an honor it was to share the stage with both Pride and fellow Black country star Darius Rucker, who co-hosted the CMAs.
“It’s been a dream of mine since I was a kid to have a song with me, Darius and Charley,” Allen told PEOPLE. “For me, as a Black guy being a fan of country music, Charley Pride was ‘the guy.’ And then I grew up a huge rock fan, and Hootie and the Blowfish had a Black guy [Rucker], and it was one of the biggest rock bands of all time, and he’s now one of the biggest country artists. So it was important for me to do something with both of them, and especially Charley.”
Watch Allen’s pre-show video diary below: