PBS' American Masters special Charley Pride: I'm Just Me can be watched free through Dec. 26 on the PBS website and on the PBS Video app. After its run as free content, the 2019 documentary will return to the members-only PBS Passport streaming service.
According to a press release, the documentary "traces the improbable journey of Charley Pride, from his humble beginnings as a sharecropper's son on a cotton farm in segregated Sledge, Mississippi to his career as a Negro League baseball player and his meteoric rise as a trailblazing country music superstar."
"At a time when African American singers were more notable for R&B hits, Charley Pride followed his passion for country music, overcoming obstacles through determination and raw talent to make a lasting impact on the genre and create a legacy that continues today," said Michael Kantor, executive producer of American Masters. "We are honored to share the inspiring, and largely untold, story of this barrier-breaking performer with viewers nationwide."
The film, directed by Barbara Hall, got its name from a 1971 Pride single written by Glenn Martin.
Pride's groundbreaking run with RCA Records began with the 1966 single "The Snakes Crawl at Night" and proved itself permanent when "All I Have to Offer You (is Me)" topped the country charts in 1969. By the end of the '70s, Pride was a three-time Grammy award winner and his label's best-selling performer since Elvis Presley.
Between his first country hit in 1966 and 1989, Pride lent his smooth baritone voice to 29 No. 1 hits and over 50 Top 10 tracks on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, including "Just Between You and Me" (1966), "Is Anybody Goin' to San Antone" (1970) and "Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'" (1971).
Industry honors for Pride include CMA (Country Music Association) Entertainer of the Year (1971) and Male Vocalist of the Year (1971, 1972) awards. He also earned spots in the Country Music Hall of Fame and on the Grand Ole Opry cast.
Pride made history in 1975 as the first Black man to co-host the CMA Awards when he shared master of ceremonies duties with Glen Campbell. He remained the only African American to fill that role until Rucker co-hosted this year's broadcast with Reba McEntire.
His last major appearance in Nashville came during the CMA Awards' Nov. 11 broadcast, during which he accepted the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award and sang "Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'" with fellow Black country star Jimmie Allen.
Pride died on Dec. 12 at age 86 from COVID-19 complications. The Dallas, Texas resident is survived by his wife of over 60 years, Rozene Pride, and their three children: fellow country singer Dion, reggae band leader Kraig (known professionally as Carlton) and a daughter, Angela.