Army Vet and Country Superstar Charley Pride Set for Long-Overdue Biopic

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Charley Pride
Country singer Charlie Pride visits with crew members aboard the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS CARL VINSON (CVN 70). The entertainer is aboard the ship to film a holiday message for the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service on November 6, 1984. (National Archhives)

Army veteran Charley Pride died in the fall of 2020 after a lifetime of amazing accomplishments in country music. He was the genre's first Black superstar and pretty much the only one ever, even though contemporary artists like Mickey Guyton and Kane Brown may be signs of long-overdue changes for the genre.

Dennis Quaid has announced that he's producing a movie called "American Pride," which will celebrate Charley's life and tell his amazing story. Quaid will play Marine Corps veteran "Cowboy" Jack Clement, one of the greatest songwriters and producers in country music history.

In an interview with Deadline, Quaid was effusive about the project and said, "Charley Pride was the Jackie Robinson of country music. He became a star at a time when that didn't seem possible. It is a very interesting story of a man getting his dreams, the relationship with he and his wife over 50 years, and how difficult it was for Pride to be regarded by people of his own color who gravitated to other forms of music, much less C&W (country and western) fans in the south who were resistant to welcoming a Black singer into the fold. In fact, when RCA first signed him to a deal and released his early albums, they did not put his photo on the album cover."

Born the son of sharecroppers in Sledge, Mississippi, in 1934, Pride loved baseball and music as a child and pitched professionally in the Negro Leagues before he was drafted into the Army in 1956. He served for two years and pitched for the Fort Carson, Colorado, baseball team.

After a few years living in Montana, Pride moved to Nashville, Tennessee, and got a recording contract from Chet Atkins at RCA. Clement became his producer. Pride's career took off quickly, and he was one of the biggest acts in country music from 1967 well into the '70s.

Clement wrote and produced Pride's first top 10 hit, "Just Between You and Me."

 

Quaid himself has pursued a career in music, going back to the days after he portrayed Jerry Lee Lewis in the movie "Great Balls of Fire," and Clement was an early musical mentor for the actor, just as the producer was for Pride.

Pride achieved his greatest success in 1971 with the #1 country (and Top 40 pop) single, "Kiss An Angel Good Mornin'."

 

Pride died in December 2020 of complications from COVID-19, just a few weeks after he was honored by the Country Music Association and performed live during its annual awards ceremony.

The screenplay for "American Pride" was written by Dianne Houston, well-known as a writer and producer for the music industry soap "Empire." Craig Brewer, known for "Dolemite Is My Name" and "Hustle & Flow," will direct.

There's no word yet on a release date or which actor will portray Pride, but Quaid has been keeping busy the last few years and likes to work fast. Here's hoping for an early 2023 release.

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