Singer brings 40 No. 1 hits to Vail Valley
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL VALLEY, Colorado –Ronnie Milsap, the man Billboard calls “one of the best live performers to set foot onstage,” brings his dynamic vocals and showmanship to the Vail Valley when he makes his debut at the Vilar Center in Beaver Creek Wednesday, at 8 p.m.
His track record speaks for itself: 40 No. 1 hits, over 25 million records sold, seven Grammy Awards, four Academy of Country Music Awards and eight Country Music Association Awards. The awards, the accolades and the fans all underscore Milsap’s position as one of the best-loved and most enduring artists in country music history.
Milsap provided country music with one of its most important voices as the genre was moving beyond its rural roots into the mainstream of modern entertainment. While expanding the base of country music fans, he was simultaneously becoming one of the most successful crossover artist of his day.
His music topped the country, pop and adult contemporary charts with songs like “It Was Almost Like a Song,” “Smoky Mountain Rain,” “(There’s) No Gettin’ Over Me,” “I Wouldn’t Have Missed It for the World,” “Any Day Now” and “Stranger in My House,” among others.
Amazingly, his illustrious career almost never happened. Born into dire poverty in the Appalachian town of Robbinsville, N.C., Milsap’s mother viewed her newborn’s blindness as punishment from God. Shortly after his first birthday, he was cast off and given to his grandmother to raise.
At age six, he was sent to the State School for the Blind, where his instructors noticed an inclination toward music. A year after he began learning the violin, Milsap was declared a virtuoso; he also mastered piano, guitar and a variety of other instruments.
He remained at the school for 12 years and was planning on going to college to study to be a lawyer on full scholarship. Yet he was torn between his love of music and the study of law. It was another blind performer who helped guide him.
“I went to a Ray Charles concert in Atlanta when I was in college, and I was brought backstage to Ray’s dressing room,” says Milsap. “I got to meet him, explained what a mentor he was to me, and told him about my dilemma.
“There was a piano in the dressing room, so he said, ‘Will you play me something?’ I played three songs. He said, ‘well, son, you can be lawyer if want to, but you have a lot of music in your heart and if I were you, I’d follow what my heart tells me to do.'”
Fortunately for the music world Milsap ended up in studios and on stages rather than in the courtroom.
While Ronnie had been trained as a classical musician, he was also interested in country music, gospel and rhythm and blues, all of which he had listened to on the radio while growing up. It was his love of these styles that he wove into his own music and which made his music accessible to such a wide audience.
Milsap continues to broaden his audience. His most recent success, “Then Sings My Soul: 24 Favorite Hymns and Gospel Favorites,” is topping out the Gospel charts and providing new listeners as well as his long time fans with a whole new side of Ronnie Milsap. I anticipate he will include some of these gospel songs along with his many crossover hits in Wednesday’s concert.
“Music has a way of making you feel something in your heart, in your soul,” says the singer.
I hope you can join us as this amazing artist shares his music and spirit in what should be an uplifting experience.