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At 78, Milsap will never tire of live shows

Multi-Grammy winner visits Honeywell with biggest hits

Steve Penhollow

Whatzup Features Writer

Published November 17, 2021

Ronnie Milsap’s life sounds like a country song.

Not one of those newer country songs about partying, cowboy cosplay, and driving one of those new pickup trucks that costs as much as 20 Kias.

One of those older country songs about poverty, pain, sadness, and redemption.

Milsap will perform at the Honeywell Center in Wabash on Nov. 26.

Almost entirely blind from his birth in 1943, Milsap was abandoned by his mother because she didn’t want to care for a blind child.

She later paid him a visit at the Governor Morehead School for the Blind in Raleigh, North Carolina.

“She brought her new daughter with her and told me that the child’s eyes were clear and that her daughter hadn’t shamed her the way I had,” Milsap told the Oklahoman. “I guess it was, psychologically, pretty scarring. But I have no bad feelings towards her. I’m a very positive person.”

Abuse from a school staffer later robbed him of what little sight he had.

But Governor Morehead did him some good as well: His teachers recognized that he was musically gifted and enrolled him in the school’s advanced music program. He subsequently mastered a dozen instruments.

Leaving Law Behind

Intending to become a lawyer, Milsap entered Young Harris College on a scholarship. He exited Young Harris College because he liked being in an R&B band more than he liked attending classes.

“(I said), ‘I don’t know that there’s anything academic that’s gonna get my attention like music does,’” he told the Frederick News-Post.

Milsap later befriended Charley Pride, who advised him to move to Nashville. He began working with Pride’s manager and enormous success followed. Only Conway Twitty had more hits on the country charts.

“I think the secret is, just do your work, man, and things happen,” Milsap told the Orlando Sentinel. “You just do what you love to do. Music is my baseball, my tennis, or my golf. It’s an avocation and a vocation.

“It’s hard work, but most of the time it’s fun,” he said. “I’m just proud to have been part of something like this for so long.”

At 78, Milsap said he will never tire of playing live and singing his hits.

“I love singing them all. I’m thankful for all of those. They’re all like children in a way, you know,” he said. “But I spent a lot of time and I’m very meticulous about the kind of work I do to make records happen. And I still do this kind of stuff and I’ll probably do it as long as I’m alive.

“The audience always makes you sing better, perform a lot better than you thought you were going to that night,” Milsap told the Hagerstown Herald-Mail. “When I play live, it’s better than anything I ever do in the studio.”


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