Ronnie Milsap is considered to be one of the most influential country artists of the 70’s and 80’s. Born almost completely blind, he developed a passion for music during his childhood, especially that of gospel, country and rhythm tunes. Despite initials plans to go to university to become a lawyer, Milsap instead decided to pursue his dreams of becoming a musician after graduating from high school. Carrying on with his ambitions, he later released his first single entitled, Total Disaster at the age of twenty in 1964. Following another single release in 1970, Milsap signed a recording contract with Warner Bros; he would go on to release his debut eponymous album under the label in August 1971. Since then, he has sold over 35 million records internationally.
Highly respected in the country music industry, Milsap has earned numerous achievements and awards throughout his multi-decade career. To date, he has won four Academy of Music Awards, two Billboard Magazine Awards, eight Country Music Association Awards, six Grammy Awards, and a bunch of others. During his first few years as a recording artist, he was almost hailed by Music City News Country to be the “Most Promising Male Artist of 1975.” A member of the Grand Ole Opry since 1976, Milsap has released over forty full-length albums and close to seventy singles over the yearsーforty of which had been number one hits. In 2006, he was also honoured with the Career Achievement Award by the Country Radio Seminar.
A well renowned name in the music world, Milsap has appeared as a musical performer in numerous television shows over the past few decades. Some of his earlier guest appearances include that of Another World (1964), The Good Ole Nashville Music (1970), The Porter Wagoner Show (1974), Dolly (1976), Hee Haw Honeys (1978) and The Mike Douglas Show (1978), amongst numerous others. In addition, he has also starred in the American talk shows such as Late Night with David Letterman (1982), Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon (2000), The Marty Stuart Show (2010) and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (2010). More recently in 2008, he was also featured in an episode of The Apprentice, a popular American reality series.
So what has the celebrated country star and pianist been up to the past few years? Where has his music brought him as of late? What happened to Ronnie Milsap? Where is he now in 2018?
Ronnie Milsap’s Upbringing and Musical Talents
Born on January 16, 1943, in Robbinsville, North Carolina, Ronnie Lee Milsap was abandoned shortly after birth by his biological motherーsomething that fell back on the fact that he was born almost completely blind due to a congenital disorder with his eyes. As a result, Milsap spent the first five years of his life living with his grandparents in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, after which he was then sent to attend the Governor Morehead School for the Blind in state capital of Raleigh. Although the institution instilled the feeling of confidence and independence into the young boy, it wasn’t long until he fell victim to a number of physical assaults by a number of faculty members; he later lost what little vision was left in one of his eyes following an attack from a school instructor. As a result, both his eyes were ultimately removed.
However despite the hardships, Milsap quickly found comfort in listening music, in particular the nightly broadcasts of gospel and country tunes on the radioーsomething which he’d eventually develop a passion for. By the time he was seven, his musical talents had already attracted the attention of his instructors. Shortly afterwards, he was sent to officially study classical music at the school, as well as a number of instructions. Soon proficient in piano, Milsap later formed a rock band with a few of his friends called The Apparitions, during his high school years.
After graduating from high school, Milsap went to Young Harris College under a full scholarship, with plans on becoming a lawyer. During that period, he became a member of a well-known local R&B band, The Dimensions, which had often performed in the Atlanta area. With his passion for music once again reignited, Milsap declined his scholarship for law school and eventually left his college studies to chase his dreams of becoming a recording artist. In 1964 Milsap recorded and released his first single entitled, Total Disaster/It Went to Your Head; it would ultimately sell close to 15,000 copies. Following a few stints with a rhythm and blue band that he’d fronted, the aspiring musician secured a recording deal with Warner Bros. towards the end of the 1960’s.
Ronnie Milsap’s Early Music Career During the 70’s
Milsap released his first studio album, Ronnie Milsap in August 1971ーit would be his first and last record with the Warner Bros. label. Produced by Dan Penn, the album featured eleven songs in its track list, amongst which included the hits Dedicate the Blues to Me, Sunday Rain, Please Don’t Tell Me How the Story Ends and Sweet Little Rock & Roller. Although Ronnie Milsap was well received by critics, having been given four out of five stars by Allmusic, it would ultimately not prove to be a commercial success.
The singer released his first charting album entitled, Where My Heart Is in September 1973, after signing with RCA Records. Consisting of ten tracks, the album came a long way from his previous effort; it peaked at number five on the Top Country Albums Chart in the United States. Met with favourable reviews, Where My Heart Is was also Milsap’s first album to spawn subsequent singles, namely (All Together Now) Let’s Fall Apart, I Hate You and That Girl Who Waits on Tables; two of which would climb its way up to chart amongst the top ten.
Following three subsequent album releases, Milsap released his breakthrough album, Night Things in October 1975. His best-selling record since his debut, the album contained many eventual hits such as Daydreams About Night Things and Just in Case, which were both written by Hugh Moffatt. Awarded a four and a half star rating, Night Things eventually peaked at number two on the US Top Country Albums Chart and at number 191 on the Billboard 200. Although it didn’t receive any certifications in its native US, it would later go on to be certified Gold across the border in Canada, where it had sold over 40,000 copies.
The singer released his next big hit, It Was Almost Like A Song in 1977. Noted for spawning two number one tracks, the album also marked his debut on the Adult Contemporary Chart, where it had settled in at number seven; it later reached number sixteen on the Billboard 100 Chart. Described by a number of critics as Milsap’s breakthrough album, it later spawned the singles What a Difference You’ve Made in My Life and It Was Almost Like a Song, both of which would top the Country Single Charts. As of February 1978, the album has been certified gold for selling over 500,000 copies in the US.
Before the end of the decade, Milhap released two more full-length albumsーOnly One Love in My Life in 1978 and Images in 1979; the latter would later go on to become his second gold accredited record.
Milsap’s Music Career during the Later Decades
Throughout the 1980’s, the blind performer released a total of nine albumsーof note is his 1981 album, There’s No Getting’ Over Me and his 1985 album, Lost in the fifties Tonight, both of which topped the charts shortly upon its release. Critically acclaimed, the two albums have since sold over 500,000 units across the country, earning them gold certification status from the RIAA. Some of his other records recorded during that period include Milsap Magic (1980), Out Where the Bright Lights Are Glowing (1981), Inside (1982) and Keyed Up (1983), amongst a few others.
A year after the start of the 90’s, Milsap released his twentieth studio album entitled, Back to the Grindstone in March 1991. Praised to be “one of his best albums” by Allmusic, the album eventually peaked at number twenty four on the Top Country Albums Chart and at number 172 on the Billboard 200. Packed with ten songs, Back to the Grindstone later produced four charting singles: Since I Don’t Have You, Are You Lovin’ Me Like I’m Lovin’ You, Turn That Radio On and All is Fair in Love and War. Two other albums released before the new millennium include True Believer in 1993 and Sings His Best Hits for Capitol Records in 1996.
Carrying on with his singing career into the 2000’s, Milsap released his twenty-third full-length album, Just for a Thrill in May 2004. His first record under Image Entertainment, it composed of fourteen recordings, most of which featured jazz and pop sounds. Complimented for its piano and vocals, Just for a Thrill received four stars from Allmusic. Throughout the next ten years, the artist continued to release a series of albums; four to be exact. Milsap’s most commercially successful album from the 2000’s was Then Sings My Soul, which ranked in at number nineteen on the Top Country Albums Chart, at number 127 on the Billboard 200 and at number eight on the Billboard Top Christian Albums Chart.
What’s Ronnie Milsap Doing Now in 2018- Recent Updates
A singer since the late 60’s, the country star has been traveling through the country for most of the past year for his Farewell Tour. After continuing his professional career for over four decades, he will be taking the opportunity to say goodbye to his loyal fans up on the stage. Originally kicked off in November 29, 2014, at the Country Music Hall of Fame, of which he was inducted into earlier this year, the tour has extended into 2015 and will be continuing through October and into March of 2017; it is currently set to end at the Schmerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville, Tennessee.
However despite the shows being highly anticipated ones, things did not go all too smoothy for Milsap this July, when he suffered from an unnamed health issue back-stage prior to his scheduled concert on Tifton. As a result of the health scare, the show in Georgia was put to a halt and postponed while the 73 year old musician was rushed to Tift Regional Medical Center by ambulance. In a later update post on Facebook, Milsap was told to be in good spirits after being discharged from the medical center; according to sources, he had been treated for dehydration. Shortly after being released from the hospital, he went on his way to continue with his Farewell Tour.
Wanting to stay connected with the talented country star? You can do so by following Ronnie Milsap himself on social mediaーhis Twitter account (@ronniemilsap) is only one click away! Don’t forget to also visit his official website (ronniemilsap.com) as well as his Facebook page for the latest news!