Pioneering Black country superstar Charley Pride will be the subject of a 90-minute CMT special set for August, the network is announcing today, with stars like Luke Combs, Garth Brooks, Mickey Guyton and Darius Rucker participating in the commemoration.
Titled “CMT Giants: Charley Pride,” the special will be arriving when Pride-pride is still at a peak level, with his name constantly brought up in the current conversations about race and country music, and how his ascent to the top of the genre in the 1970s represented both an enormous breakthrough as well as an opportunity to keep the door open that was lost.
The special will premiere August 25 at 9 p.m. ET on the cable network.
“I am delighted to have so many ‘giants’ in the business celebrate the legacy of Pride,” said Rozene Pride, who was married to the singer for 54 years (and who always called him “Pride,” not “Charley”). “He would have been so happy to see the artists give so generously of their time and talent to honor him. This truly is a testament to the impact that he had on the country music community for so many years.”
Pride has not gone uncelebrated in recent times: He was honored and sang on the CMA Awards last November, just a month before he died from complications of COVID-19.
The special will include contributions from some of the small number of Black artists that have found success in mainstream country in the last few years — including Guyton, Jimmie Allen and Reyna Roberts — as well as Neal McCoy, a veteran who followed in Pride’s wake. Others saluting Pride on the special besides Combs and Brooks include genre stars Reba McEntire, Wynonna Judd, Alan Jackson and Lee Ann Womack, genre-adjacent figures Gladys Knight and Robert Randolph, and the star’s son, Dion Pride. Combs, Roberts and Randolph will be performing one of Pride’s classics together.
“It’s an incredibly great honor to celebrate Charley Pride’s career from the perspective of those who knew him best — his friends, family and peers,” said Margaret Comeaux, one of the show’s executive producers at CMT. “As a true ‘giant’ in country music, Charley serves as an inspiration for present and future artists, and his legendary career transcends barriers with music that stands the test of time.”
“CMT Giants” is a franchise launched by CMT in 2006, though it initially only lasted for three years, celebrating McEntire in 2006, Hank Williams Jr. in 2007 and Jackson in 2008. It was revived in 2020 with a special dedicated to another recently departed superstar, Kenny Rogers.
Other Pride projects unrelated to the network are in the works, including a posthumous album release and a delayed-by-COVID public memorial service and tribute concert.
The “Giants” special is executive produced by Taillight’s Tom Forrest alongside Comeaux, with Jackie Barba and Heather D. Graffagnino as executives in charge of production. Leslie Fram is executive in charge of talent, and Shanna Strassberg is talent producer.