Pride wows concert goers on Choctaw Casino stage

DURANT, Okla. — Charley Pride brought his intense country voice and his six-piece band to Choctaw Casinos this past Friday. Using those gifts, Pride also brought a corner of classic country music as it was, romantic, strong, with joy at its highest and pain at its lowest.

Pride also shared with his audience his own admiration of those who came before him; talking at times about having opened for those he considered legends while he was entering the music business. He first got the attention of Red Sovine by singing backstage at a Red Sovine concert. He gave tribute to Jim Reeves, Conway Twitty, Glen Campbell.

At Sovine’s advice, he moved to Nashville, but it still took several years before Chet Atkins took a chance on Pride. It was in the late 60s, he said, when he finally hit the charts. Since then, he’s had three dozen No. 1 hits, and countless others that also charted. Pride performed them all on the Choctaw stage, and the audience sang along with him throughout the show

One of Pride’s new songs, “America the Great,” brought the crowd to its feet early in the show. He dedicated the song to the current troops and to the veterans in the crowd. After the song and the standing ovation were over, Pride told the audience that it was a Canadian who wrote the song.

Other crowd-pleasers were “Crystal Chandeliers,” You’re My Jamaica,” “Kaw-Liga,” and “Just Between You and Me.” And the crowd took his tales to heart, his stories those who influenced him in his music, about his mother and his life with 10 siblings, and his wife.

Charley Pride — a champion of country music nearing 75 years of age — brought his A-game to the stage.