DOORS AT 7:00PM • SHOW 8:00PM
CMA Entertainer of the Year & Four Album of the Year Awards.
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.Being the brilliant kid he was, it wasn’t long until he’d found his way into the local clubs and the tiny indie labels.
Suddenly, he was sharing bills with Ray Charles (who took the Ashford & Simpson-penned B-side to Milsap’s Scepter single “Never Had It So Good” and scored his own hit with “Let’s Go Get Stoned”), and James Brown on a circuit that included the Howard Theater, the Royal Peacock, and more.
It was Ray Charles who told the young pianist when he was offered a scholarship to Young Harris College’s law program, “Son, I can hear the music inside you…”
It settled Milsap’s fate.
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.