Always chasing the music, always hungry for the songs, RONNIE MILSAP is now an inspiration for a new generation of country stars from critical standard setters Kacey Musgraves and Little Big Town to CMA/ACM Entertainers of the Year Luke Bryan and Jason Aldean, as well as a standard-setter for friends like Dolly Parton, George Strait, Willie Nelson and even groundbreakers Leon Russell and Billy Gibbons.
Born blind (his family thought it was retribution for sin), RONNIE MILSAP’S grandparents gave the boy over to the North Carolina State School for the Blind hoping for a better chance. There, Milsap discovered music — deviating from the school’s classical curriculum to explore the nascent realms of race music, rock and roll and jazz.
Being the brilliant kid he was, it wasn’t long until he’d found his way into the local clubs and the tiny indie labels. Suddenly, he was sharing bills with Ray Charles (who took the Ashford & Simpson-penned B-side to Milsap’s Scepter single “Never Had It So Good” and scored his own hit with “Let’s Go Get Stoned”), and James Brown on a circuit that included the Howard Theater, the Royal Peacock, and more.
It was Ray Charles who told the young pianist when he was offered a scholarship to Young Harris College’s law program, “Son, I can hear the music inside you…”
It settled Milsap’s fate.
With 40 #1s, five decades of charted singles, and six Grammy’s he broke genre rules and became one of the biggest pop/AC and even R&B artists of the late ’70s and early ’80s. His video for “She Loves My Car” was the first country video played on MTV. And man, can he tell a story.