The Country Music Hall of Fame welcomed Charley Pride into its family
and presented him with a bronze medallion commemorating his
recent induction during a private ceremony Tuesday night (March
The celebration, featuring stories and music, was the first official Hall of Fame event in the museum's new,
$37 million facility in downtown Nashville. The museum opens to the public May 17.
Pride and late country star Faron Young were officially inducted into the Hall of Fame in October during The 34th Annual
CMA Awards. Months later, Pride is still excited about receiving the highest honor in country music.
"I've put some
thought into it," he remarked before the ceremony, "and I've come to the conclusion that ... this milestone is at the top
of the heap. Of all the awards, success and achievements I have been fortunate to have, I've come to the conclusion that this
"I try to stay low enough to not let it get to me -- the extent of this thing -- because if I talk and get
too deep in thought about it, I start to tear up."
On hand were Hall of Fame members E.W. "Bud" Wendell, Brenda Lee,
Eddy Arnold, Little Jimmy Dickens, Frances Preston, Earl Scruggs and Jo Walker-Meador.
Ralph Emery and "Cowboy" Jack
Clement, who produced 20 of Pride's albums, recalled stories about Pride and saluted his induction. "Because of his music,
his character and all the obstacles he had to overcome to get here," Clement remarked, "I'm so very pleased and happy he now
is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame."
Wendell did the honors of presenting Pride his medal. The Dallas-based
country star, who turns 63 on Sunday (March 18), kept his acceptance speech brief. "I'm going to stop right now and do what
got me here," Pride said. "I'm going to do some songs."
Wearing his new medallion, he and his band performed Marty
Robbins' "My Woman, My Woman, My Wife," Jim Reeves' "He'll Have to Go," Hank Williams' "Kaw-Liga" and Young's 1961 No. 1 hit,
"Hello Walls," written by Willie Nelson. He rounded out his set with two of his own hits, "Is Anybody Goin' to San Antone"
and "Kiss an Angel Good Morning."
Lee presented Young's medallion to the singer's son, Robyn. "I'm pleased to know
my father's name is going to live forever in this beautiful building," Robyn Young said.
Grand Ole Opry star Bill
Anderson, legendary songwriter Merle Kilgore and Dwight Yoakam (via video) paid tribute to Young. The rowdy, hard-living country
star was repeatedly characterized as a hell-raiser with a heart of gold. Pride praised Young for supporting him early in his
career when Pride broke country music's color barrier.
Newcomer Eric Heatherly performed Young's signature song, "Live
Fast, Love Hard, Die Young."
Tennessee Governor Don Sundquist, Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell, Hall of Fame Director
Kyle Young and MCA Records Nashville Chairman Bruce Hinton, who serves as Chairman of the Hall of Fame's Board of Officers
and Trustees, congratulated Pride and Young's family during the formal presentations. Also in attendance were members of the
Hall of Fame staff, music industry and media.