CLASSIC SOUNDS- Singer Charley Pride

Charley Pride includes Red Deer on his Canadian tour

Legendary country singer excited about latest project Choices

Fans of classic country will be thrilled that one of the ‘masters’ is making a City stop June 2. Charley Pride plays the Centrium with showtime at 2 p.m.

Pride is excited about hitting the road again, and delights in putting together a show that reflects his storied career.

“Someone said I should just get up there and do all my number one songs, but I said it doesn’t work that way,” he says with a laugh during a chat from his Dallas office recently. Price wants audiences to hear the newer material but also take something of a trip down memory lane as well.

As a result of the careful thought that goes into planning a tour, he feels this year’s show will be one of the best he’s ever done, he said. “We work hard at it. And when fans leave the show, we want them to feel like they’ve heard everything we’ve ever done.”

The tunes on his latest CD, Choices, are also among the finest he’s ever had the chance to produce, he says. It’s his first new studio album since 2006’s Pride & Joy: A Gospel Music Collection.

Choices was released earlier this year and Pride says in considering what to record, he went ‘back to the well’ by exploring material by a couple of his favourite songwriters — the late Ben Peters wrote Pride’s signature hit Kiss an Angel Good Morning and Ted Harris who penned Crystal Chandelier – a hit for Pride back in the mid-1960s. Songs by both men are included in Choices along with tracks penned by fellow country music stars Eddy Raven and Richie McDonald of Lonestar.

Pride’s longevity as an artist speaks to his incredible ability to connect to his audiences. His shows have a laid-back, relaxed feel. And he’s never wavered from what he does best – classic, traditional country.

Born to poor sharecroppers, one of 11 kids in Sledge, Mississippi, Pride has been described as ‘a timeless everyman.’ He enjoys the respect of his musical peers and the adoration of millions. He’s had a continual presence in country music for decades, and to date, he’s sold some 70 million records.

Interestingly, music wasn’t what he initially had his sights set on for a career. Baseball was an early passion, but his natural gift as a singer would surface from time to time during those early years as well.

He unofficially launched his music career in the late 1950s as a ballplayer singing and playing guitar on the team bus between ballparks. “Some of the guys would like it, some didn’t,” he recalls.

After a tryout with the New York Mets, Pride decided to return to his Montana home via Nashville. It proved a key moment in his life’s direction, as it was there he met Jack Johnson. Upon hearing the singer perform, Johnson promptly promised a management contract.

A year later, Pride returned to Nashville and was introduced to producer Jack Clement.

When Clement heard Pride’s renditions of a handful of songs, he asked Pride to cut two songs in two hours. Pride agreed and The Snakes Crawl at Night and Atlantic Coastal Line were recorded.

Three months later, Pride’s demo landed in the hands of RCA Records head Chet Atkins who signed him to the label. Pride’s first single hit the airwaves in early 1966. Before long, The Snakes Crawl at Night was climbing the charts with Before I Met You close behind.

Between 1969, when he first hit number one on the singles chart with All I Have to Offer You (Is Me) and 1984, when he commanded the top spot again with Every Heart Should Have One, Price has scored more than 36 number one singles.

Meanwhile, dozens of his chart toppers now stand as modern classics. Kiss An Angel Good Morning went on to be a million-selling crossover single and helped Pride land Country Music Association Awards as Entertainer of the Year in 1971 and Top Male Vocalist in 1971 and 1972.

Other memorable standards include Is Anybody Goin’ To San Antone?, Mississippi Cotton Picking Delta Town, Someone Loves You Honey, When I Stop Leaving I’ll Be Gone, Burgers and Fries and You’re So Good When You’re Bad to name a few.

Through it all, Pride has kept a level head about his success. He sounds as excited as ever about the joys of making music and taking it to the masses. It’s all about staying true to who you are – being ‘real’. Pride certainly understands the value of authenticity.

“I’m in the business of lyrics, feelings and emotions.”

For ticket information, visit www.ticketmaster.ca.

editor@reddeerexpress.com