It's been three years since the world lost Charley Pride: The country legend died of complications from COVID-19 on Dec. 12, 2020, at 86 years old.

As monumental as his loss was and continues to be for the country community, it's even more devastating for his family, including his son, fellow musician Dion Pride.

Speaking to Taste of Country in Nashville in mid-November, Dion explained that he and his family are still reeling from the loss of their patriarch, and that the tragedy still feels too new for them to have established any traditions or rituals honoring Pride on the anniversary of his death.

"You know, we're still grieving," the younger Pride reflects. "It's a little tough to have any kind of celebration right now, because it's still so fresh."

What does bring the family comfort, though, is being reminded of what an impact Pride had on his listeners.

"The [concerts I perform] are part his songs and part mine, and it's just overwhelming how many people he's touched with his music," Dion recounts. "Not just with his music, but as a person, too. That's the part of him that I always like to stress: What a great human being my father was. What a great man."

Pride's impact on modern-day country is self-evident: A pioneering Black country artist, he won an armload of ACM, CMA and Grammy Awards over the course of his career, and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000. His commitment to the song, and to the integrity of a great lyric, is the enduring thread that connects his music to modern-day country, Dion points out.

"He is very old school, and that's all I'll say," the singer's son says with a chuckle, when asked what his dad would think about the more experimental stars of country music's new crop.

"George Strait, Alan Jackson, Garth [Brooks] — he considered those guys new," Dion continues. "So I really don't know how he would embrace this new generation. I would think as long as the songs were good and the lyrics were good, he would support it, because that's what he was about. He was about songwriting."

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Gallery Credit: Billy Dukes

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