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Blind singer Ronnie Milsap talks with Jean Kennedy Smith
Blind singer Ronnie Milsap (L) talks with Jean Kennedy Smith on May 23, 1984 during a special arts festival for the handicapped at the Kennedy Center in Washington on May 24, 1984. The National Very Special Arts Festival is a four-day arts symposium featuring workshops, seminars, and performances for and by handicapped people from around the world. (UPI Photo/Sandy Spych/Files)
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Ronnie Lee Milsap (born January 16, 1943) is an American country music singer and pianist. He was one of country’s most popular and influential artists in the 1970s and 1980s. He became country music's first blind superstar, and one of the most talented and versatile country vocalists of all time, flirting with many musical styles rarely attempted by mainstream country performers, including pop ballads, rock n' roll, R&B, blues, doo wop, disco, funk, and gospel. He was one of the most successful country crossover singers of his time, appealing to both country and pop markets with hit singles that incorporated pop, R&B, and rock n' roll influences. Milsap’s biggest crossover hits include "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. He is credited with six grammy awards and 40 number one hits in country music, third to George Strait and Conway Twitty.

Milsap was born in Robbinsville, North Carolina with a congenital disorder that left him almost completely blind. He was abandoned by his mother as an infant and raised by his grandparents until the age of five, when he was sent to the Governor Morehead School for the Blind in Raleigh, North Carolina. Throughout his childhood he lost his remaining vision. Due to a developing blood clot both eyes were removed. Throughout his childhood he had an interest in music—particularly the late-night broadcasts of country music, gospel, and rhythm and blues. In concert, Milsap has often paid musical tribute to the legendary artists who have inspired him the most including Ray Charles, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Elvis Presley.

When he was seven, his instructors began to notice his musical talents. Shortly afterward he began studying classical music formally and learned several instruments, eventually mastering the piano. Within the next few years he also developed a passion for rock and roll and formed a rock band in high school called The Apparitions. The wide variety of musical influences in his early years would help shape Milsap into one of country music's most versatile performers. Milsap was awarded a full college scholarship and attended Young Harris College briefly in Atlanta, Georgia, until leaving to pursue a full time career in music. In the early 1960's he auditioned for and played his first professional gigs as a member of J. J. Cale’s band.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Ronnie Milsap."
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