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  • a critic reviewing country music artist Ronnie Milsap's 2006 album My Life observed that Milsap's voice remained "virtually unchanged" since his debut in the early 1970s?

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Ronnie Milsap

Milsap at Harrah's in St. Louis, Missouri on April 3, 2008
Background information
Birth name Ronnie Lee Milsap
Born January 16, 1944
Origin Robbinsville, North Carolina, USA
Genres Country music
country pop
Countrypolitan
soul
Occupations Singer, Musician
Instruments vocals, piano, keyboards
Years active 1963–Present
Labels RCA Records
Associated acts Crystal Gayle
Eddie Rabbitt
Mike Reid
Kenny Rogers
Website Ronnie Milsap Official Site

Ronnie Lee Milsap (born January 16, 1944[1]) is a Grammy Award-winning American country music singer and musician. He was one of country’s most popular and influential artists in the 1970s and 1980s. He became country music’s first blind superstar. He was also one of the most successful country crossover singers of his time, appealing to both country and pop markets. Milsap’s biggest crossover hits include "It Was Almost Like a Song," "Smoky Mountain Rain," "(There's) No Gettin' Over Me," "I Wouldn't Have Missed It for the World," "Any Day Now," and "Stranger in My House," among others. He is credited with 40 number one hits in country music, third to George Strait and Conway Twitty.

Contents

Biography

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Early life and rise to fame (1963-1971)

Milsap was born in Robbinsville, North Carolina with a congenital defect, which left him almost completely blind. Soon after his first birthday he was cast off and given to his grandmother to raise. At age five he was sent to the Governor Morehead School for the Blind in Raleigh, North Carolina, where he received a quality education and skills that would be beneficial to him for the rest of his life. He attended college for a while for law. Throughout his childhood he lost his remaining vision. Due to a developing blood clot both eyes were removed. Throughout it all he took refuge in music—particularly the late-night broadcasts of country music, gospel, and rhythm and blues. He has often said that he was inspired by Ray Charles, Little Richard, and Patsy Cline.

When he was seven, his instructors began to notice his musical talents. Shortly afterward he began studying classical music formally. Within the next few years he also developed an affection for rock and roll and formed a rock band called The Apparitions. Milsap was awarded a full college scholarship and attended college briefly in Atlanta, Georgia, until leaving to pursue a full time career in music. In the early 1960s he got his first professional gig as a member of J. J. Cale’s band.

He released his first single, "Total Disaster," in 1963. This was followed up by several Ashford & Simpson compositions, including "Let’s Go Get Stoned," which was relegated to a B-side. A few months later, however, it became a million-selling single for Ray Charles. Milsap had a R&B hit with another Ashford & Simpson song, "Never Had It So Good." Around this same time, Milsap met and fell in love with Joyce, and the two were married in 1965.

A few years later, after moving to Memphis, Tennessee, he frequently worked for Chips Moman. During this time, he worked on numerous projects including two songs with Elvis Presley: "Don't Cry Daddy" in 1969 and "Kentucky Rain" in 1970. That same year, he enjoyed brief pop success with "Loving You Is a Natural Thing." He released his debut album, Ronnie Milsap, in 1971.

Breakthrough success (1973-1975)

In 1973, Milsap moved to Nashville to pursue his dream of country music stardom. He began working with Charley Pride's producer, Jack D. Johnson, and was signed to RCA Records that year. He released his first single from RCA that year called "I Hate You," which became his first country hit, just breaking the country top 10. The next year, 1974, he had two number one hits: "Pure Love" and "Please Don't Tell Me How the Story Ends." In 1975, he revived the Don Gibson hit "(I'd Be) A Legend In My Time." That year, he scored another number one hit with "Daydreams About Night Things." Milsap soon had a handful of top tens, along with four number one hits, that made him a star.

"It Was Almost Like A Song" (1976-1978)

From 1976 to 1978, Milsap scored seven number one songs in a row, including "(I'm a) Stand By My Woman Man" and "What a Difference You've Made in My Life." The most significant in this string was "It Was Almost Like a Song" in 1977, Milsap's first crossover hit. In addition to topping the Billboard country charts, the song was his first entry on the pop charts ever since "Please Don't Tell Me How the Story Ends" peaked at #95; "It Was Almost Like a Song," however, made it to #16. It was also his first song to reach the Adult Contemporary Charts, stopping at #2. Despite its success, the song was Milsap's only crossover hit of the 1970s. However, he returned to the pop charts just four years later with great success. Milsap continued to achieve top hits on the country charts for the remainder of the 1970s.

Crossover success (1979-1992)

In 1979, Milsap had a number one hit, top 5 hit and a top 10 hit. Then in 1980, things would change a lot for him. From this point on and up until 1983, he scored a streak of 11 number one hits in a row. His fourth and final one of that year was "Smoky Mountain Rain," which helped cement his name in country music history as one of its most successful artists. The following year, the single peaked in the Top 40 on the pop chart. It also became the first of two Milsap songs to top the Adult Contemporary chart. Other crossover hits included the top 5 pop hit "(There's) No Gettin' Over Me" and the top 20 hits "I Wouldn't Have Missed It For the World" and "Any Day Now". He also had some success with "He Got You".

Although the string of number ones came to an end in 1983, the song which ended the streak—"Stranger in My House"—was still successful on all three charts; it peaked at #5 on the country chart, #23 on the pop chart, and #8 on the Adult Contemporary. Just a few months later, "Don't You Know How Much I Love You" was released. It was this song that would be Milsap's last significant entry on the pop chart, stopping at #58. However, it along with some other songs still became major hits on the Adult Contemporary chart. These hit singles include "Show Her," "Still Losing You," and finally, "Lost in the Fifties Tonight" (his last crossover hit) in 1985.

Between 1985 and 1987, Milsap enjoyed a string of uninterrupted country number one hits, enjoying his biggest success at this time, including "She Keeps the Home Fires Burning," "In Love," "Snap Your Fingers," and "Where Do the Nights Go," as other country pop singers were beginning to fade from the country music charts.

In 1989, Milsap had his last number one hit with "A Woman in Love," although he still remained successful on the charts. Other top tens between 1989 and 1990 include "Turn The Radio On" and "Houston Solution." In 1992, he had his last major hit, "All Is Fair In Love and War." The song peaked at #11, just missing the Top 10. By that time, however, Milsap's chart success faded away, but he continued touring the country. He has remained as one of country music's most popular concert attractions.

1993-present: Life today

Milsap has remained one of country music's greatest influences. In 1993, he released another single called "True Believer." In 2000, he released another single called "Time, Love, and Money". By this time Milsap's chart success days were over, but in 2006, he released another single called "Local Girls", which reached No. 54.

His biography has been featured on A&E Networks's Biography television series. He has been featured on CMT's numerous shows, including 40 Greatest Men of Country Music.

In 2009 he released a two-CD set entitled Then Sings My Soul which featured 24 hymns and gospel songs, including "Up To Zion". "Up To Zion" was co-written by Gregory James Tornquist and Noreen Crayton.

Capitol Records Protest

Ronnie Milsap recorded his new single "My First Ride" as a fundraiser to benefit fire-fighters and police officers in the US and Canada. The song features Trace Adkins on vocals and 70 percent of all proceeds go toward the fund. Milsap was pleased when Mr. Adkins offered to support the cause and lend his talents to the effort. Then, after the songs release the label flexed its muscles and said 'no' to radio stations playing it with no explanation given. On September 24, 2009 Ronnie decided to take the fight directly to the label - Ronnie and a group of TN fire-fighters and volunteers picketed Capitol Records because the label banned the record from radio and I-Tunes 4 weeks after its release. Ronnie marched with the group of 50 to the front steps of the label, then 'belted out' the new single from on top of a vintage fire-truck. The demonstration was peaceful and after the performance the group was asked to leave by building security. Ronnie said: "We came here to raise awareness about this worthy cause." "What record label wouldn't want to be part of raising money for this much needed fund that helps fire-fighters and police officers who desperately need it."

Discography

Industry awards and honors

Academy of Country Music

Billboard magazine

  • 1980 #1 Country Song of the Year - "My Heart"
  • 1985 #1 Country Song of the Year - "Lost in the Fifties Tonight"

Country Music Association

Grammy awards

Music City News Country

  • 1975 Most Promising Male Artist

Miscellaneous achievements

  • 40 #1 Hits, 35 of which reached the top spot on the Billboard charts; the remaining 5 topped other trade charts, including Cashbox
  • Over 35 million albums sold
  • Inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 1976
  • Inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in 2002
  • Awarded the Career Achievement Award by Country Radio Seminar in 2006
  • Awarded the 2007 Rocketown Legend Award

Notes

See also

References

  • "Just The Facts." The Official Ronnie Milsap Website. Retrieved Aug. 18, 2004.
  • Goldsmith, Thomas. (1998.) "Ronnie Milsap." In The Encyclopedia of Country Music. Paul Kingsbury, Ed. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 348–9.
  • Milsap, Ronnie (with Tom Carter). (1990) "Almost like a song." New York, NY. : McGraw-Hill.

External links


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