Who Is Ronnie Milsap?
Blind since birth, country singer Ronnie Milsap was raised in a poor farming community and was schooled in classical music at the Morehead State School for the Blind in Raleigh. Milsap's debut album was released by Warner Brothers in 1971. During his career, he’s had 40 number one country hits, won six Grammys and eight Country Music Association Awards.
Milsap was born on January 16, 1943, in the Appalachian town of Robbinsville, North Carolina. Blind since birth, Milsap spent his early childhood in an impoverished farming community. With financial support from his grandparents, he attended the Morehead State School for the Blind in Raleigh, where he was taught classical music and learned to play the piano, violin, and guitar.
Milsap continued his education at Young-Harris Junior College, located in a mountainous region of northern Georgia, where he studied political science. After his graduation, he was offered a scholarship to Emory University but instead chose to pursue a professional career in music. In 1964, at the age of 20, Milsap released his first single, "Total Disaster." The following year, he relocated to Memphis, where he fronted his own rhythm and blues band. In 1970, they recorded the pop single "Loving You is a Natural Thing." The following year, Milsap released his eponymous debut album for the Warner Bros. record label.
In 1972, Milsap moved to the country music epicenter of Nashville, Tennessee; in 1973, he signed with RCA Victor. A slew of hit singles followed, including "I Hate You" (1973), "Pure Love," and "Please Don't Tell Me How the Story Ends" (both 1974). For the latter single, Milsap was awarded a Grammy for Best Male Country Vocal Performance. Furthermore, the Country Music Association named Milsap male vocalist of the year in 1974, 1976, and 1977.
In 1981, Milsap recorded the heart wrenching ballad "Smoky Mountain Rain," which introduced him to a larger audience when it crossed over to the pop charts. He secured the same success with the songs "(There's) No Gettin' Over Me" (1981) and "Any Day Now" (1982). In 1986, Milsap won another Best Male Country Vocal Performance Grammy for the album Lost in the Fifties Tonight (1986). The following year, he shared a Best Country Vocal Performance Duet Grammy with Kenny Rogers for their collaboration on the single "Make No Mistake, She's Mine."
In 1990, Milsap published an autobiography, Almost Like a Song, which chronicled his ascent from poverty-stricken beginnings to country music superstar. He collaborated with country rock veterans Alabama to record the 1997 holiday album Christmas in Dixie. Most recently, Milsap released the album Then Sings My Soul (2009).
To date, Milsap boasts 40 No.1 country hits, six Grammy Awards, and eight Country Music Association Awards. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2014.
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