Charley Pride was a black man in a white man’s business. He was a country superstar when country music was almost exclusively dominated by white musicians and fans. During the 1960’s and 1970’s, he sold tens-of-millions of albums and released 39 number one country singles during the course of his career. During the 1960’s and 1970’s, only Elvis Presley sold more records for the RCA label. He was elected to the Country Music Hall Of Fame in the year 2000.
He has released 48 studio albums but only two contained gospel music. Real Gone Music has now reissued 1971’s Did You Think To Pray and 1975’s Sunday Morning With Charley Pride under the title The Gospel Collection. The material from Sunday Morning With Charley Pride is making its official debut on CD.
Pride’s voice was somewhat unusual for country music at the time. It had a very smooth quality that enabled him to find commercial success beyond country music’s normal fan base.
Country and gospel music have always been first cousins and Pride was able to make the jump between the two forms with ease.
Each of the albums has a distinct quality. Did You Think To Pray has a more traditional flavor as it mixes some gospel standards with newly created inspirational songs. Sunday Morning With Charley Pride has a more contemporary feel.
Did You Think To Pray is a classic fusion of country and gospel. “Let Me Live” was a hit country single release and finds Pride stretching his vocal ability in an emotional performance. His laid back renditions of “Whispering Home” and “Church In The Wildwood” bring these old chestnuts into the modern age.
Many of the compositions on Sunday Morning With Charley Pride were written especially for him. The Jordanaires and the Nashville Edition provide choir-like backing vocals on the tracks. “Little Delta Church” finds Pride reminiscing about happy childhood memories, while incorporating such hymns as “Amazing Grace,” “In The Sweet By and By,” and “Precious Memories” into the mix. “Brush Arbor Meeting” is a nice nostalgic performance, while “Without Mama Here” is and outstanding ballad.
The Gospel Collection presents two unique stops in the career of country superstar Charley Pride. They remain two of the better gospel albums of the 1970’s and it is nice to have them back in circulation.