It's not unusual for initial brushes with fame to wear down a country singer's marriage, especially if the star in question married at a young age. There are exceptions though, such as Charley Pride. The music legend was married to his wife Rozene from Dec. 28, 1956-- a full 10 years before Pride's first single and studio album-- to his Dec. 12, 2020 passing.
The couple met in 1956 while Pride played Negro League baseball for the Memphis Red Sox-- the same team that had Pride's brother Mack Pride Jr. on its roster the prior season.
Ebby Cohran had raised his daughters Rozene, Hortense and Pauletta as baseball fans. Even if Rozene followed along to please her dad at first, she was well-versed in the game long before she started dating a professional baseball player.
"Many of the young women who hung around the stadium did so just to meet ballplayers and be part of the social life of the season," Pride wrote in his 1994 autobiography Pride: The Charley Pride Story. "But Rozene could talk baseball with the savviest of the players or coaches."
Rozene had lived a comparably glamorous life while Pride was raised by sharecroppers in Sledge, Mississippi. Still, the young couple gelled without a clue that Charley would eventually have more in common professionally with Hank Williams than Hank Aaron.
"Rozene came from a background that was as alien to me as a camel in a cornfield," Pride wrote in his autobiography. "She had finished high school, attended college and cosmetology school and had an air of maturity and self-assurance."
The couple wed in Mississippi right before Pride's two-year stint (1956-'58) in the Army.
After years of trying to see out his Major League dreams with the Boise Yankees and other clubs and working construction and at a smelter in Helena, Montana, Pride turned his attention to country music. His groundbreaking run with RCA Records began with the 1966 single "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, his label's best-selling performer since Elvis Presley and a former CMA Entertainer of the Year and two-time Male Vocalist of the Year. In 1993, Pride became the second African-American member of the Grand Ole Opry. His long list of hit country songs earned him a spot in the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000 and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017.
Rozene's maturity and self-assurance came in handy once Pride's career reached new heights. Much like Earl Scruggs' wife Louise, Rozene always played a huge behind-the-scenes role in her husband's success.
Over the years, the Pride family welcomed two musically-inclined sons, reggae artist Kraig (known professionally as Carlton) (born Jul 6, 1957) and country crooner Dion (Mar 23, 1962), and a daughter named Angela (Apr 18, 1965).
The Pride family called Dallas home for decades. They raised their children there, and Pride revisited an old passion of his by becoming part-owner of the Texas Rangers baseball team.
"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."
Although Pride didn't write signature country hit "Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'," its tale of unquenchable romance applies to the home life of one of the best love song interpreters to ever get the Nashville's stamp of approval.
This story previously ran on Nov. 11, 2020.