Pride, who rose to fame in the 1960s, passed away on Saturday, his website said.
While Pride was not the first black singer in country music, he became one of its biggest stars during a period of division in the US.
He won three Grammy Awards, followed by a lifetime achievement award in 2017.
Pride was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000 – the second African-American to become a member.
Country star Dolly Parton, who described Pride as “one of my dearest and oldest friends, said she was “heartbroken” at the news of his death.
I’m so heartbroken that one of my dearest and oldest friends, Charley Pride, has passed away. It’s even worse to know that he passed away from COVID-19. What a horrible, horrible virus. Charley, we will always love you. (1/2)
— Dolly Parton (@DollyParton) December 12, 2020