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March 24, 2020 8:00PM
The Fox Theater
With Andy Byron
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 & roll and jazz.
Living in Atlanta, playing clubs and doing sessions the future Country Music Hall of Famer caught wind that JJ Cale was looking for a keyboard player. Cale hired him. Ronnie went on to work at the Whiskey for a good while.
From Atlanta, Ronnie moved to Memphis where he was doing sessions with Chips Moman, where Elvis famously commanded, “More thunder on the keys, Milsap,” during the recording of “Kentucky Rain.” It was there he was asked to play the Whiskey on the famed Sunset Strip in LA. While staying at the notorious Hyatt House, Charley Pride, a famous man in country music, saw the white kid playing rock & soul and suggested giving Nashville a try.
Forty #1s. Five decades of charted singles. Creating a new way of recording (being blind his hyper-attuned hearing led him to create/build what is now known as Ronnie’s Place, where the new album, the Duets, was captured), he broke genre rules and became one of the biggest pop/AC and even R&B artists of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s.
Six Grammys. CMA Entertainer of the Year and four Album of the Year Awards. The first country video played on MTV (the ironic “She Loves My Car”). An early champion of NFL star Mike Reid, who wrote many of Ronnie’s #1 hits and who’d go on to write Bonnie Raitt’s second most enduring classic “I Can’t Make You Love Me.”
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