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He eventually made it to Nashville and recorded a demo that RCA Records liked. “They decided to sign me and there’s history looking at you right now,” Pride said.

“I’ve been singing all my life. I heard a song I’d like, I’d just sing it, not realizing that I was preparing myself for this, but here I am,” he said. “People liked my singing and once they got me on record, a whole bunch of people liked me.”

Pride, who has won three Grammy Awards and had dozens of No. 1 hits, also is donating albums, cassettes and CDs of his music to the museum collection. Other items, including a baseball bat and Texas Rangers uniform, are tied to his love of the sport. Pride is a part owner of the Rangers.

Pride’s most popular songs include “Is Anybody Goin’ to San Antone,” “I’m So Afraid of Losing You Again” and the crossover hit “Kiss an Angel Good Mornin’.” He was the Country Music Association’s entertainer of the year in 1971 and top male vocalist in 1971 and 1972.

He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000.

“My business is selling lyrics, feelings and emotions,” Pride said. “Once you hear me and if you come to see my show, you’ll never forget it because I sell every song.

“I hope to keep doing it because I ain’t ready to quit yet.”

John Rumble, senior historian for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, said that while Pride is regarded as country music’s biggest African-American star, “in the history of country music, he’s also one of the biggest stars.”

“Audiences love him because he’s an entertainer, he’s a performer. They know that he’s singing for them and that he appreciates their support,” Rumble said.

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Online:

Charley Pride, http://www.charleypride.com

National Museum of African American History and Culture, http://nmaahc.si.edu