Playing with ‘Pride’

‘Stand Your Ground’ shooter cleared
December 16, 2014
Tigers draw Music City Bowl
December 16, 2014
‘Stand Your Ground’ shooter cleared
December 16, 2014
Tigers draw Music City Bowl
December 16, 2014

Neal McCoy is probably one of the nicest guys in country music.

The Jacksonville, Texas, native comes by the reputation honestly He learned at the elbow of the best: Charley Pride.

In 1981, after winning a talent contest in Dallas, which was hosted by Janie Fricke, McCoy got a gig opening for Pride. By the time the young singer hit his stride in the 1990s, he’d charted on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs with back-to-back No. 1 singles, “No Doubt About It” and “Wink” from his platinum “No Doubt About It” album. He has two more platinum and a gold album, as well as six more Top 10 hits, and a killer video in “Billy’s Got His Beer Goggles On.”

With three platinum albums and a gold album to his credit, McCoy has earned his spot in country’s ranks.

“It seems like we’ve always been out working,” McCoy said during a phone interview. “We do shows on our own or go play with others. When people ask when the tour started, I tell it was back in 1982.”

McCoy’s recent gigs include a spot on Blake Shelton’s “Ten Times Crazier” summer tour with the Band Perry and Dan + Shea, a sold out one-night show with Tracie Lawrence and a series of festivals and other venues.

“We’re just out there having entertaining and having fun,” McCoy said.

McCoy and his band travel to Cypress Bayou Casino Dec. 13. Tickets are $20 to $35 and are available at the casino box office or through Ticketmaster.

McCoy’s latest project, “Pride: A Tribute to Charley Pride,” pays homage to the man who served as an early mentor.

The 13-track CD, released in partnership with Cracker Barrel, covers iconic hits made famous by Pride: “Is Anybody Goin’ to San Antone,” “Kiss an Angel Good Mornin’,” “Kaw-Liga” and “Why Baby Why” among them.

McCoy settled on doing a Pride tribute while searching for new material.

“Fans tend to want something new right after you put out a CD,” the singer said. “Our fans just about listened the print off (a release) no sooner than it comes out.”

Given Pride’s notable trove of tunes – 36 No. 1 songs, 31 gold and four platinum albums including one quadruple platinum – McCoy said a Pride tribute was over-due.’Tt’s a tribute and a thank you,” McCoy said. “I got to learn from Charlie from a stage standpoint.”

The master taught the pupil how to relax audiences and work a stage, but just as importantly, McCoy learned how to treat fans offstage.

“I got to watch a superstar make time for fans and give them an extra minute,” he said. “Running through the airport or out on the road, Charlie would stop and focus on his fans. That’s the way it is supposed to be done.”

Today, younger artists look to McCoy for similar lessons.

“I’m just passing one what I have learned,” he admits. “Hopefully, people will want to mimic me and some of the stuff I am doing.”

In the meantime, McCoy’s mentor is delighted with the final product. “He loves it,” McCoy said of Pride. “He was really honored that I was doing it and he loves the final product.”

Although the final production has been modernized a bit, McCoy said he stayed true to Pride’s vocal lines.

“He’s been singing those songs a long time,” the singer said. “I don’t think he would have appreciated hearing a different melody.”

With the holidays fast approaching, McCoy said he’ll head home to spend time with his family and grandsons – the second of whom was born in late October – and do a Christmas show with the Longview, Texas, symphony.

And he’ll begin thinking about his next big project.

“For my ego, I would always like to have another big hit on the radio,” McCoy said. “But I’m pretty content. I’m pretty happy where I am, where I’ve come from and where I’m going.”



WHEN: 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 13

WHERE: Cypress Bayou Casino, Charenton


INFO: 800-284-4386 or Ticketmaster

Neal McCoy pays tribute to his mentor, country icon Charlie Pride, in his latest release, available at Cracker Barrel. McCoy performs Saturday at the Cypress Bayou Casino.