The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community are in mourning today, following the news that American singer Charley Pride, the first black superstar of country music, died on Saturday at the age of 86.

This news comes as a bitter ending to an exhausting few months for local mob, with NAIDOC Week, The Dreamtime Awards – and several Indigenous rounds taking place in sport.

Aboriginal flags across the country are at half mast today, as the community mourns a man that most Aboriginal kids thought was Aboriginal himself. Family have confirmed that Pride died on 12 December in Dallas, Texas from complications related to coronavirus.

Pride is well known amongst country music fans became as one of the genres first international superstars.

He won three Grammys over a half a century career and in 2000, becoming the first black member of the Country Music Hall of Fame Born in Sledge, Mississippi in 1934, to sharecropper parents, he went on to work on cotton fields, play professional baseball and serve in the US army before moving to Nashville in 1963 to pursue a career in music.

Pride made a name for himself in the Australian Indigenous community as the first black man on TV and radio singing the type of songs people like listening to in the bush.

His iconic voice will be remembered for generations to come in rural and urban Aboriginal households – who are tonight singing along to his chart topping Kiss an Angel Good Mornin’, Is Anybody Goin’ to San Antone and Mountain of Love.

Fellow Indigenous country music favourite Aunty Dolly Parton was among the first to pay tribute to Pride on social media, writing: “I’m so heartbroken that one of my dearest and oldest friends, Charley Pride, has passed away. It’s even worse to know that he passed away from Covid-19. What a horrible, horrible virus. Charley, we will always love you. Rest In Peace. My love and thoughts go out to his family and all of his fans.”

Vale Uncle Charley


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