Country Music Hall of Fame member Ronnie Milsap celebrated his 76 birthday Wednesday night (Jan. 16) at the Ryman Auditorium for a WSM Listener Appreciation show. The six-time Grammy winner’s newest record, Ronnie Milsap: The Duets, which features performances with George Strait, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, Kacey Musgraves and more, releases on Friday (Jan. 18). Last night’s Ryman show kicked off his 76 For 76 Tour.
With a six-piece band, Milsap led the audience down a memory lane of his 40 No. 1 hits, helmed by Milsap and his grand piano. Milsap came ready to party, opening with his rocking “Prisoner of the Highway.” Legendary WSM DJ Eddie Stubbs was on hand to introduce Milsap.
Not to neglect any one of his hits, Milsap went into a medley featuring “I Wouldn’t Have Missed It For The World,” “What A Difference You’ve Made In My Life,” “In Love,” “No Getting Over Me,” “Let’s Take The Long Way Around The World,” “She Keeps The Home Fires Burning,” and a few more, thrilling the audience with every transition.
He played full versions of fan-favorites like “What Goes On When The Sun Goes Down” and “Legend In My Time.” Milsap told stories of his journey through music in between songs. The crowd leaned in, silently, hanging on to every word he said.
Milsap brought a few guests to the stage for the special night. Little Big Town joined Milsap to perform their collaboration on the Duets album, “Lost in the Fifties Tonight.” The vocal band harmonized in the doo-wop style while Milsap’s band member wailed on the saxophone. Lucy Angel also joined him on stage to perform their appropriate Milsap tune from the album, “Happy Happy Birthday Baby.”
Little Big Town eventually rejoined Milsap with a birthday cake and led the audience in singing “Happy Birthday” to the legend.
“My team knows I don’t like surprises,” Milsap said after the show. “But when they’re surprises like Little Big Town, who sound like angels when they sing, coming out with a birthday cake, I can only think about what a blessed and lucky man I am. I’ve spent my life inside the music, and to make music with folks like Karin, Kimberly, Jimi and Phillip is the most wonderful thing in the world.”
“Ronnie, it’s Joe,” a voice called out, sending a smile to Milsap’s face. Esteemed former RCA Label Group/Sony Music Nashville Chief Joe Galante and the team that worked around Milsap during his time at RCA ventured out on stage with a plaque and presented it to Milsap for 40 million records sold. “Is that Mustang Sally?” Milsap said, referring to Sally Williams with a grin.
“It’s all because of you,” Milsap said of Galante. “Let’s get this right,” Galante interjected. “You cut all [these songs], all I did was help. I’ve had the privilege of working with you for almost 40 years and these songs are timeless and so is your performance.”
The love was reciprocated throughout the night from Milsap.
“He promoted my records along with Jerry Bradley,” Milsap said. “He burned the radio up! Joe Galante was there for me; and I appreciate you, Joe. You’re absolutely the best record man I’ve ever worked with.”
Milsap also took the time to gush about the songwriter who wrote 13 No. 1’s for him, Mike Reid. Some songs that Reid wrote for Milsap include: “Stranger In My House,” “In Love,” “Inside,” “Lost in the Fifties Tonight,” “She Keeps the Home Fires Burning,” “Show Her,” “Still Losing You,” and “Where Do the Nights Go.”
He was grateful to WSM, as well. “I’m addicted to the radio, you know,” Milsap said. “I listen to [WSM] all the time. I listen on Alexa! I sure do. That turns out to be my friend out on the road.”
Black River’s Abby Anderson got the evening started, opening the show with some new music.
Feeling grateful to open for the legend, Anderson admitted; “I’m being a 21 year old girl and crying. I’m sorry, it’s just an honor to be on this sacred stage playing for you beautiful people, opening for one of my musical heroes.” She later joined Milsap on stage to sing “Stand By Me.”
Milsap closed up the night the way he opened it: excited. He smiled as he covered The Rolling Stone’s “Honky Tonk Women” and said goodnight to his standing crowd.
Ronnie Milsap is truly ‘a legend in his time.’ Ronnie Milsap: The Duets will be available tomorrow (Jan. 18).
Ronnie Milsap: The Duets Tracklisting:
1. Southern Boys and Detroit Wheels ft. Billy Gibbons
2. Stranger in My House ft. Luke Bryan
3. Smokey Mountain Rain ft. Dolly Parton
4. Prisoner of the Highway ft. Jason Aldean
5. A Woman’s Love ft. Willie Nelson
6. Happy Happy Birthday ft. Lucy Angel
7. No Getting Over Me ft. Kacey Musgraves
8. Lost in the Fifties ft. Little Big Town
9. Houston Solution ft. George Strait
10. What a Woman Can Mean to a Man ft. Jessie Key
11. Misery Loves Company ft. Leon Russell
12. You’re Nobody ft. Steven Curtis Chapman
13. Shakey Ground ft. Montgomery Gentry
Tickets for his 76 For 76 tour are available here.
Ronnie Milsap’s 76 for 76 Tour Dates:
January 17 – Mayetta, KS @ Prairie Band Casino & Resort Great Lakes Ballroom
January 18 – Stafford, TX @ The Redneck Country Club
January 19 – Bossier City, LA @ Horseshoe Bossier City The Riverdome
January 27 – Fort Lauderdale, FL @ Country Music Cruise 2019
January 28 – Key West, FL @ Country Music Cruise 2019
February 9 – Glasgow, KY @ Plaza Theatre
February 16 – Shelby, NC @ Malcolm Brown Auditorium
February 21 – Morgantown, WV @ Metropolitan Brown Auditorium
February 22 – Madisonville, KY @ Glema Mahr Center For the Arts
February 28 – Lexington, KY @ Opera House
March 1 – Lorain, OH @ Palace Theater
March 2 – Lancaster, PA @ American Music Theater
March 8 – Hinckley, MN @ Grand Casino Hinkley
March 9 – Lac De Flambeau, WI @ Lake of the Torches Casino
March 22 – St. Louis, MO @ River City Casino
March 24 – Austin, TX @ Travis County Expo Center
April 4 – Mobile, AL @ Saenger Theatre
April 5 – Beaumont, TX @ Jefferson Theatre
April 26 – Hopewell, VA @ The Beacon Theatre
April 27 – Cincinnati, OH @ JACK Casino Event Center
May 3 – Eustis, FL @ Lake County Fairgrounds Expo Center
May 10 – Quapaw, OK @ Downstream Casino Resort
May 11 – Hinton, OK @ Sugar Creek Casino
May 17 – Riverside, IA @ Riverside Casino and Golf Resort
May 18 – Larchwood, IA @ Grand Falls Casino Resort
May 23 – Charenton, LA @ Cypress Bayou Casino Hotel
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