The first black country music star spins a great life story. Charley Pride, one of 11 kids born into Mississippi Delta poverty, may be the only black country star, but he's no Uncle Tom. He frankly describes growing up in a segregated world, with a tough-as-nails father and a mother he adored, writing with simple directness and folksy turn of phrase (``You have to walk past a lot of woodpiles...but most of them do not harbor wild animals''). He speaks movingly about race relations and indignities endured early on, including seeing a brother kidnapped by whites. Pride actually set out to become a professional baseball player; slowed by injuries, he still managed to become a star in the Negro Leagues and flirted with the majors. He stumbled into country music--which he had loved from childhood--almost as an afterthought. But he's had a surprisingly smooth ride there and sees his acceptance by country's white audiences as proof that music lowers barriers. Like baseball's Jackie Robinson, Pride had the right combination of traits for a pioneer: good looks, charm, and talent. He tells how RCA set up his career (developing a following for him on radio before letting fans learn he was black), and of aid and friendship proffered by Chet Atkins, Willie Nelson, Ralph Emery, and others. As with many celebrity stories, the tale of Pride's gritty beginnings is more interesting than details of his finances, his interest in astrology, or the obligatory star-chat of later chapters. Pride's story flags only slightly as he describes a struggle with manic depression, a campaign to gain respect from a withholding father, and his disappointment with the way country has abandoned its elder statesmen for vacuous, photogenic young stars. Filled with wit and grit, an admirable exemplar of the celebrity bio genre.