CMT will honor country music icon Charley Pride with a special tribute to the late singer after the 86-year-old Dallas resident contracted COVID-19. He died Saturday. 

The special tribute “CMT Remembers Charley Pride” takes place at 7 p.m. Wednesday with two encore presentations at 8 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 17, and 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 19. Some of Pride’s closest friends, colleagues, and admirers will appear, including Loretta Lynn, Merle Haggard, and Tim McGraw, alongside Pride’s wife Rozene, son Dion, sister Maxine, and his brother Joe. 

“Despite facing pervasive racism throughout this legendary career, Pride’s perseverance and unmatched talent transcended generations, broke down barriers, and blazed a new path for black country artists,” CMT announced in the Dec. 14 press release. 

Pride was the first Black country singer to be admitted to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000, followed by harmonica legend Deford Bailey in 2005.  

On Nov. 11, a month before his death, Pride appeared onstage with Jimmie Allen at the Country Music Association Awards for a rousing rendition of Pride’s 1971 hit “Kiss an Angel Good Morning.” The CMA Awards was honoring Pride with the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award. 

A couple of weeks later, Pride was hospitalized with COVID-19 symptoms.

When news of Pride’s death spread, several critics pointed out that no one at the indoor CMA Awards show were practicing social distancing or wearing face masks. The CMA, however, says this allegation is simply not true. The CMA claims that they were following CDC protocols, including rigorous testing of attendees. 

“Everyone affiliated with the CMA Awards followed strict testing protocols outlined by the city health department and unions,” the CMA wrote in a Dec. 12. “Charley was tested prior to traveling to Nashville. He was tested upon landing in Nashville, and again on show day, with all tests coming back negative. After returning to Texas following the CMA Awards, Charley again tested negative multiple times. All of us in the Country Music community are heartbroken by Charley’s passing. Out of respect for his family during their grieving period, we will not be commenting on this further.”

And with infections skyrocketing in North Texas, it is difficult to say where exactly Pride may have contracted the virus. According to the most recent numbers available, there have been 1.49 million cases and 24,585 deaths in Texas. In Dallas County, more than 160,000 cases and 1,700 deaths have been reported.  

The CDC reports that it takes 2 to 14 days for the virus to appear in your system. The average time symptoms appear is between four and five days. As the CDC points out on its website: “You may test negative if the sample was collected early in your infection and test positive later during this illness. You could also be exposed to COVID-19 after the test and get infected then. 

“Even if you test negative, you still should take steps to protect yourself and others.”

Christian McPhate

Christian has been working as a freelance journalist in North Texas for more than a decade. His stories have appeared in the Dallas Observer, the Houston Press, and Rolling Stone magazine. He covers a...