Charley Delight, country music’s first Black star whose wealthy baritone on such hits as “Kiss an Angel Good Morning” helped promote hundreds of thousands of data and made him the primary Black member of the Country Music Corridor of Fame, has died. He was 86.
Delight died Saturday in Dallas of issues from, in line with Jeremy Westby of the general public relations agency 2911 Media.
“I am so heartbroken that certainly one of my dearest and oldest associates, Charley Delight, has handed away. It is even worse to know that he handed away from COVID-19. What a horrible, horrible virus. Charley, we’ll at all times love you,” Dolly Parton tweeted.
Delight launched dozens of albums and bought greater than 25 million data throughout a profession that started within the mid-Sixties. Hits moreover “Kiss an Angel Good Morning” in 1971 included “Is Anyone Goin’ to San Antone,” “Burgers and Fries,” “Mountain of Love,” and “Somebody Loves You Honey.”
He had three Grammy Awards, greater than 30 No. 1 hits between 1969 and 1984, received the Country Music Affiliation’s High Male Vocalist and Entertainer of the 12 months awards in 1972 and was inducted into the Country Music Corridor of Fame in 2000.
The Smithsonian in Washington acquired memorabilia from Delight, together with a pair of shoes and certainly one of his guitars, for the the Nationwide Museum of African American Historical past and Tradition.
Ronnie Milsap referred to as him a “pioneer” and mentioned that with out his encouragement, Milsap may by no means gone to Nashville. “To listen to this information tears out a chunk of my coronary heart,” he mentioned in a press release.
Till the early Nineties, when Cleve Francis got here alongside, Delight was the one Black country singer signed to a significant label.
In 1993, he joined the Grand Ole Opry solid in Nashville.
“They used to ask me the way it feels to be the `first coloured country singer,'” he instructed The Dallas Morning News in 1992. “Then it was `first Negro country singer;’ then `first Black country singer.′ Now I am the `first African-American country singer.′ That is about the one factor that is modified. This country is so race-acutely aware, so ate-up with colours and pigments. I name it `pores and skin hangups’ — it is a illness.”
Delight was raised in Sledge, Mississippi, the son of a sharecropper. He had seven brothers and three sisters.
In 2008 whereas accepting a Lifetime Achievement Award as a part of the Mississippi Governor’s Awards for Excellence within the Arts, Delight mentioned he by no means centered on race.
“My older sister one time mentioned, ‘Why are you singing THEIR music?'” Delight mentioned. “However all of us perceive what the y’all-and-us-syndrome has been. See, I by no means as a person accepted that, and I actually consider that is why I’m the place I’m at present.”
As a younger man earlier than launching his singing profession, he was a pitcher and outfielder within the Negro American League with the Memphis Purple Sox and within the Pioneer League in Montana.
After enjoying minor league baseball a few years, he ended up in Helena, Montana, the place he labored in a zinc smelting plant by day and performed country music in nightclubs at evening.
After a tryout with the New York Mets, he visited Nashville and broke into country music when Chet Atkins, head of RCA Information, heard two of his demo tapes and signed him.
To make sure that Delight was judged on his music and never his race, his first few singles have been despatched to radio stations and not using a publicity picture. After his id grew to become recognized, just a few country radio stations refused to play his music.
For probably the most half, although, Delight mentioned he was effectively obtained. Early in his profession, he would put white audiences at ease when he joked about his “everlasting tan.”
“Music is the best communicator on the planet Earth,” he mentioned in 1992. “As soon as individuals heard the sincerity in my voice and heard me challenge and watched my supply, it simply dissipated any apprehension or dangerous feeling they may have had.”
All through his profession, he sang optimistic songs as a substitute of unhappy ones usually related to country music.
“Music is a ravishing method of expressing oneself and I actually consider music shouldn’t be taken as a protest,” he instructed The Related Press in 1985. “You possibly can go too far in something — singing, performing, no matter — and change into politicized to the purpose you stop to be an entertainer.”
In 1994, he wrote his autobiography, “Delight: The Charley Delight Story,” through which he disclosed he was mildly manic depressive.
He had surgical procedure in 1997 to take away a tumor from his proper vocal wire.
He obtained the Residing Legend award from The Nashville Community/Music Metropolis News, recognizing 30 years of accomplishment, in 1997.
“I would prefer to be remembered as a great one who tried to be a great entertainer and made individuals completely happy, was a great American who paid his taxes and made a great residing,” he mentioned in 1985. “I attempted to do my finest and contribute my half.”