Charley Pride Honored With Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award At 2020 CMA Awards

Charley Pride; Photo Courtesy CMA
Charley Pride; Photo Courtesy CMA
Charley Pride; Photo Courtesy CMA

Charley Pride received the 2020 Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement award on Wednesday, November 11 at the 54th annual CMA Awards.

The country icon was on hand to accept the honor from fellow country artist Jimmie Allen.

Prior to his acceptance speech, Pride took to the stage to perform his song, “Kiss an Angel Good Mornin’.”

“Well, you might not believe but I’m nervous as can be,” Pride said when accepting 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,” Pride 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.”

“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.”

“Charley Pride is the epitome of a trailblazer,” says Sarah Trahern, CMA Chief Executive Officer. “Few other artists have grown Country Music’s rich heritage and led to the advancement of Country Music around the world like Charley. His distinctive voice has created a timeless legacy that continues to echo through the Country community today. We could not be more excited to honor Charley with one of CMA’s highest accolades.”

According to the Country Music Association, “The Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award is for an iconic artist who has attained the highest degree of recognition in Country Music. The Award was established to recognize an artist who has achieved both national and international prominence and stature through concert performances, humanitarian efforts, philanthropy, record sales and public representation at the highest level. The artist receiving this Award has positively impacted and contributed to the growth of the genre throughout a course of years that have proven to have an unprecedented historical impact on fans and industry alike.”

Pride made country music history by becoming the genre’s first African American superstar. With a remarkable career spanning more than five decades, his distinctive voice allowed him to make nearly every song he touched into a Top 10 hit, if not a No. 1. Between his chart debut in 1966, and 1989, Pride had 29 No. 1 Country hits and over 50 Top 10 tracks, including enduring classics like “Is Anybody Goin’ to San Antone” (1970), “Kiss an Angel Good Mornin’” (1971) and “All I Have to Offer You (Is Me)” (1969). In 1971, he was named CMA Entertainer of the Year as well as Male Vocalist of the Year in both 1971 and 1972. Pride was also the first black man to co-host the CMA Awards, taking the reins in 1975 alongside Glen Campbell. He became a Grand Ole Opry member in 1993 and in 2000, was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. He holds three Grammy Awards and was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award by The Recording Academy in 2017.

Previous recipients of the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award include Willie Nelson (2012), Kenny Rogers (2013), Johnny Cash (2015), Dolly Parton (2016) and Kris Kristofferson (2019).

The 54th Annual CMA Awards featured performances from Chris Stapleton, Rascal Flatts, Morgan Wallen, Miranda Lambert, Maren Morris, Luke Combs, Eric Church, Jon Pardi, Keith Urban, Jimmie Allen, Ingrid Andress, Little Big Town, Rascal Flatts, Old Dominion and Kelsea Ballerini.

Additionally, the show included star-studded collaborations by Dan + Shay with Justin Bieber, Reba McEntire featuring Darius Rucker, Gabby Barrett and Charlie Puth, Carly Pearce with Charles Kelley, Thomas Rhett together with McEntire, Chris Tomlin and Hillary Scott, as well as Darius Rucker featuring Lady A.

Hosted by Reba McEntire and Darius Rucker, “Country Music’s Biggest Night” aired on Wednesday, November 11 (live 8:00-11:00 PM ET) on ABC.