Pride’s history with the CMA Awards includes his 1971 Entertainer of the Year win and his 1975 co-hosting gig alongside Glen Campbell. Both career milestones were firsts for Black performers.
After learning that reports of a country legend’s demise were greatly exaggerated, Brooks reached out to Pride and his wife Rozene. That exchange led to Brooks’ trip to Dallas to record “Where the Cross Don’t Burn” with a dream collaborator.
Songwriters Troy Jones and Phil Thomas’ “Where the Cross Don’t Burn” tells of a young white boy’s special bond with an older Black man in a segregated society. It’s reminiscent of not just Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “The Ballad of Curtis Loew” but also the real-life African American mentors of pioneering country stars, including Hank Williams’ inspiration Tee Tot (Rufus Payne) and one of Bill Monroe’s guiding lights, innovative fiddler Arnold Schultz.
It’s not the only superstar duet on Fun. Brooks is the Bradley Cooper to wife Trisha Yearwood’s Lady Gaga on “Shallow” from the A Star is Born soundtrack. Blake Shelton team-up “Dive Bar” made the track list, as well.
Brooks’ new studio album also features the gospel-funk vibes of “Amen” and a nod to Jimmy Buffett, Kenny Chesney and other countrified beach bums, “Message in a Bottle.”
Fun’s Nov. 20 release coincided with the arrival of another stocking stuffer, Triple Live Deluxe.