The Recording Academy, the Grammy Awards' parent organization, has announced its 2017 Special Merit Awards recipients, and Charley Pride will be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Recording Academy's Lifetime Achievement Awards celebrate performers who have made outstanding contributions in the recording field. The Academy's National Board of Trustees votes on the recipients each year.

"This year's Special Merit Awards recipients comprise a prestigious group of diverse and influential creators who have crafted or contributed to some of the most distinctive recordings in music history," says Neil Portnow, president / CEO of the Recording Academy, in a press release. "These exceptionally inspiring figures are being honored as legendary performers, creative architects and technical visionaries. Their outstanding accomplishments and passion for their respective crafts have created a timeless legacy."

Pride, 78, has had a long and successful career in country music career; in fact, he celebrated his 50th year in the industry in 2016. The "Kiss an Angel Good Morning" hitmaker is one of the most successful artists in country music -- and, even more significantly, he helped break barriers within the genre by becoming the first black superstar in country music.

After teaching himself to play the guitar as a young teenager, Pride was signed by RCA Victor; his first big hit, "Just Between You And Me," nabbed him his first Grammys nomination in 1966. Pride became the first African-American singer to perform at the Grand Ole Opry in 1967, and, later, he became the first black member of the Grand Ole Opry.

Pride hit No. 1 for the first time in 1969 with "All I Have to Offer You (Is Me)." Over the course of his career, he has scored 36 chart-topping country hits, and sold millions of records worldwide. Pride was awarded the CMA Awards' Entertainer of the Year honor in 1971 -- the first African-American to win that honor -- and Top Male Vocalist in 1971 and 1972.

In 2017, the Recording Academy will also honor Shirley Caesar, Ahmad Jamal, Jimmie Rodgers, Nina Simone, Sly Stone and the Velvet Underground with Lifetime Achievement Awards.

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