Country Music Hall of Fame member and multi-Grammy Award-winner Charley Pride was always been surrounded by talented kinfolks. After all, his 10 siblings from back home in Sledge, Mississippi include fellow Negro League baseball player Mack Pride Jr. (both brothers played for the Memphis Red Sox) and Texas singer-songwriter Stephen Pride. Beyond three sharecroppers' sons made good, a family tradition continues with Charley's musically-talented sons Kraig (known professionally as Carlton) and Dion.
While Dion Pride sings the music of classic country singers and pop crooners in his own voice, his older brother Carlton blazed a path performing and producing reggae, funk and other styles beyond what's popular in Nashville.
Carlton's best known as the longtime singer and guitarist of Zion, the headliners of the Bob Marley Festival from 1996 to 2003.
For its 2000 album What You Need, Zion cut a father-son duet of "Kiss an Angel Good Morning" that's a must-hear for any fan of both roots reggae and roots music.
Despite his apparent lack of country star aspirations, Carlton and his band Zion became the first reggae act to play the Grand Ole Opry. This historic moment found Carlton and his band mates standing on a stage shared by his dad's heroes (Hank Williams), peers (Willie Nelson) and the elder Pride himself: just the second of just three African Americans invited to join the Opry (with the others being DeFord Bailey and Darius Rucker).
Dion Pride, a son of Charley and his wife Rozene Pride, looks a lot like Daddy and, without sounding too much like him, grasps the elder Pride's song interpreter gifts. That's not to box Dion in as a tribute act, as the multi-instrumentalist's worked hard to make sure he's his own man as a country singer and songwriter.
Dion honors Dad, a former tour mate, with covers of "Kiss an Angel Good Morning," "Is Anybody Goin' to San Antone" and other country songs from Charley's run with RCA Records (in the '70's, the elder Pride was the label's best-selling artist since Elvis Presley). He's also written such originals as "Choices," a song good enough to be the title track of his dad's 2011 album.
As you might imagine, Dion views his dad's success as both a benefit and a hard act to follow.
"As difficult as it is, I still see it as a blessing because he accomplished so many good things," he told Country Music News International in 2013. "And immediately, there is the name recognition. People will take me in and embrace me because of his success and I'm grateful for that. But the greatest challenge is to establish my own mark."
Dion and Carlton became big brothers with the 1965 birth of their sister Angela. All three of the Pride family's children were raised in Dallas, Texas.
"I grew up in a segregated society, and I didn't want to subject my three kids to that," Pride told the Dallas Morning News in 2017. "We picked out what we thought was the best place for the kids and also for traveling around the world, and you couldn't find a better place for that than Dallas."
This story previously ran on June 25, 2020.