The run up to this year’s Grammy Awards has been all Beyoncé vs Adele, who go head-to-head in multiple categories. Of course, it’s possible that Sturgill Simpson could best them both for Album of the Year with his exceptional A Sailor’s Guide to Earth. But among the night’s hit makers, nobody stands taller than Charley Pride, who between 1967 and 1987 landed more than fifty songs in the Country Top 10, and scored thirty-six Number Ones throughout his career. The Mississippi native will be honored with a much-deserved Lifetime Achievement Award by the Recording Academy on the Sunday night telecast along with six other artists, including posthumous awards for fellow country pioneer Jimmie Rodgers and jazz legend Nina Simone.
Pride released his first single, “The Snakes Crawl At Night,” in 1966. It was sent to radio programmers without a publicity photo in fear that they wouldn’t play it because Pride was black. But the consistency of Pride’s work—and the support of contemporaries such as Willie Nelson—helped to silence the doubters, and Pride became the first African American singer to perform at the Grand Ole Opry in 1967.
Ahead of Sunday’s show, we’ve put together a playlist of some of Pride’s biggest—and some lesser known—hits, as well as selections from more of our favorite Grammy-nominated artists. Click below to listen, and good luck to all!