Saturday, June 26, 2021 @ 8:00 pm
Must be 21 or older to attend.
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.
Ronnie Milsap is a testament to going where you don’t belong with an open heart and a true sense of music as compass. A rebel blind boy often at odds at school for following the music in his heart, that music took him to places white people didn’t go... brought him a wife who would be not just a steadfast companion, but a fellow traveller in the songs (they’re still together!!)... give him stages from the chitlin circuit, soul clubs, rock rooms to the biggest arenas, “Solid Gold,” the White House and beyond.
He saw racism inside out. He led with an open-mind, and a hunger to play. He created action in songs instead of words without tangible works. He’s the same guy today, but all these years later, he’s still a man who lives to play.
And man, can he tell a story.