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Charley Pride joins Angel Network benefit concert

LONGVIEW, Texas (LNJ) - Neal McCoy might be a household name with three Grammys under his cowboy belt buckle now, but when he was introduced to the legendary Charley Pride in 1981, he mowed lawns and sold women’s shoes at the Longview Mall.

“Charley Pride is my mentor. He is my hero and he helped me get my foot in the old proverbial country music door,” McCoy said.

According to our newspaper partners, the Longview News Journal, he has joined McCoy for several shows in the past, Pride, country music’s first black superstar, will join McCoy for the 24th annual Neal McCoy and Friends Concert benefiting the East Texas Angel Network on Sept. 29 at LeTourneau University’s Belcher Center.

“He gave me the opportunity to be the kind of entertainer I am, and it will be a great homecoming to see him again,” McCoy said.

Since the East Texas Angel Network was created, it has raised more than $9 million for children with terminal or life-threatening illnesses and their families in East Texas. More than 600 families have been helped since the first concert. Corporate sponsors make the night possible. Money also is raised through merchandise along with silent and live auctions.

McCoy began the East Texas Angel Network after years of being paid to perform concerts benefiting sick children and being thanked by his fans for doing the show. After a show in Tombstone, Arizona, almost 25 years ago, McCoy said he made a conscious effort to find out the circumstances behind the show he was booked to play.

“It was a 9-year-old child with bone marrow cancer, and I got to know Matt Barney and his family and it kind of hit me in the heart,” McCoy said. “I came home and talked to my wife (Melinda) about it and we talked about seeing if we could help some of these folks. That is when we came up with the East Texas Angel Network.”

McCoy said Matt, the inspiration for the East Texas Angel Network, died at age 11, but he is the reason so many others have been helped. Before his passing, Matt and his sister got to be in McCoy’s music video, “Wink.”

Pride, who was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000, said he is looking forward to joining McCoy at the benefit again because he loves the atmosphere and the fun he has with McCoy on stage


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