By Brian Ives
Five years after his last album, Punching Bag, Josh Turner recently returned with his latest album, Deep South, a proud look at his roots. In the Turner-penned title track, which leads the album off, he sings, “You say you’re from a planet where the tea ain’t sweet/You’ve never seen a chicken that’s fried/You’ve never been up in a big ol’ live oak tree/You’ve never heard of Charley Pride.”
Of course, it’s entirely possible that country fans haven’t heard of Charley Pride, unfortunately, as he hasn’t had a top ten country hit since 1987.
But those who know their country music history know that Charley Pride, who happens to be one of the genre’s few African-American stars, is one of country’s greatest singers. And Turner tells Radio.com that he’s been fortunate enough to meet the man.
“Charley Pride, I’ve been around him a lot, and I’ve always been a fan of his. There’s a reason they call him ‘Country Charley Pride,’ because he always stayed true to country music. He was the first really successful black country artist, and he’s always been a role model and an example for every other black artist who has come to country music, because of the way he’s handled himself. He’s handled that whole racial thing in such a classy way.”
And despite his legendary status, Turner says, the man is always down-to-earth. “Every time I’ve been around him, he remembers my name, he knows exactly who I am, he’s just a real guy. He’s a talented guy. You know him when you hear him. He’s a country music icon.”
And, he notes, this isn’t the first time he’s name dropped Pride in a song: on 2006’s “White Noise,” he sings, “It ain’t a thing ’bout black and white/It’s Johnny Cash and Charley Pride.”
“It’s actually the second time I’ve referenced him in a song,” he laughs. “Because, you know, ‘Pride’ rhymes with a lot of stuff.”
Check out all of Josh Turner’s tour dates at Eventful.