A number of people on social media have linked Charley Pride‘s COVID-19 diagnosis to his appearance at the 2020 CMA Awards, but the late singer’s manager does not support that theory.
Kevin Bailey says he doesn’t know how Pride caught the coronavirus, but says the Country Music Association took every precaution and that Pride tested negative on two or three occasions after the Nov. 11 show.
Pride — a Country Music Hall of Fame artist best known for “Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'” — died on Dec. 12 at age 86 after being hospitalized since late November.
“This COVID thing, it’s impossible to know where it came from, where you got it,” Bailey tells the Dallas Morning News. “My understanding is that when Charley went into the hospital, we thought he had pneumonia. Somebody decided to do another test, and then they put him in the COVID unit.”
The exact date of Pride’s hospitalization is not known yet, and the Dallas Morning News article reminds readers that no COVID-19 test is 100 percent accurate. Bailey adds that both he and the singer tested negative twice in the days leading up to the show, as well, and while photos of unmasked artists sharing the room may have been disturbing to some, everyone in that room was tested on multiple occasions to get there.
Perhaps most informative from Bailey’s remarks is how seriously his boss took the coronavirus pandemic and necessary precautions.
“Charley was the best of anybody I knew with staying isolated,” Bailey says. “He and his wife were home all the time. And every time I went and had a meeting with him, we were both masked and sitting across the room from each other. Every precaution was taken.”
Among country singers, Maren Morris and Rhiannon Giddens were two who quickly linked Pride’s death to the CMAs, with both removing (Morris) or walking back those comments (Giddens) soon after. Mickey Guyton flatly stated that, “We need answers as to how Charley Pride go COVID.” Brandi Carlile replied to Morris’ tweet, showing support for her concern.
Soon after Pride’s death was announced, the CMA released a statement in which they stood by their safety protocols. Pride was at the awards to accept the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award and to perform “Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'” with Jimmie Allen.