Charley Pride's career spans more than five decades and includes three Grammy wins and induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame, so it's meaningful when he says that his most recent album is a crowning achievement. Music in My Heart, released last month, is Pride's first studio album since 2011's Choices.
“It feels good, and especially because of this album,” says Pride, a longtime Dallas resident. “This is one of the finest albums I’ve ever made. I’m not just saying that to be saying that, and I’m not the only one saying that either.”
Music in My Heart is Pride’s return to a traditional country sound. The 83-year-old, who is also a member of the Grand Ole Opry, says his latest work has received a warm reception from fans.
“People that have been following me all these years think it is one of the finest things I’ve done in my whole career,” Pride says. “My fans think it is the best thing I’ve done, even going back to when I first started.”
Pride says Music City Records, a Nashville-based record label that has released his music since 2001, approached him to make the new record.
“My label asked me if I would do some new material because they loved what they’ve gotten all these years,” Pride says. “They said, ‘We would like some new material,’ so after six years, I said, ‘to which I don’t plan on waiting too much longer.’”
The album was produced by Billy Yates, the country singer-songwriter and performer from Missouri who co-wrote hit songs such as “Choices” and “I Don’t Need Your Rockin’ Chair” for George Jones. Music in My Heart is the first time Pride and Yates have collaborated.
Although Pride provides guitar and vocals, the record’s 13 original tracks were penned by some of country music’s biggest legends, including Johnny “Country” Mathis, “Whisperin" Bill Anderson, Ben Peters, Tommy Collins and Yates.
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Music in My Heart also features a couple of familiar classics played with Pride’s flavor, including a rebooted version of the late Merle Haggard’s 1978 song “The Way It Was in ’51'” and Tommy Collins’ "New Patches.” Pride says the material for the album fits his and Yates' vision of a traditional-sounding country record.
“Those were some of the songs that were sent to me by the recording company, so that’s where we got all of the material from,” Pride says. “We got together and this is what we made. It was really fine. Most anybody who hears it just loves it.”
Pride has been a Texan since 1969, and he says he plans on recording more new music in Dallas starting next year.
“We’re trying to put together somewhat of like a duet album with some of my best friends and people that want to do it with me,” Pride says. “It might not come out next year, but it will be less than six years.”