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    Ronnie Milsap headlines 13th Gulf Coast Gala


     PORT ARTHUR – Ronnie Milsap, one of the most popular and influential performers of the 1970s and 80s, will headline the 13th Annual Gulf Coast Gala at Lamar State College Port Arthur.

    Milsap, as part of his farewell tour, will perform at the Gala on Saturday, April 30, at 7 p.m. at the Carl Parker Multipurpose Center on the campus of LSCPA, 1800 Lakeshore Drive in Port Arthur.

    “Spring is always an exciting time when the Gala comes around but to have someone of the caliber of Ronnie Milsap performing is truly exciting,” LSCPA President Dr. Betty Reynard said. “The level of talent he possesses is unsurpassed. No doubt he will be amazing to see in person.”

    Milsap became country music’s first successful blind singer and the biggest crossover artist of his generation, appealing to both country and pop music markets with hit songs that incorporated pop, R&B, and rock and roll elements. His 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”. He is credited with six Grammy Awards and 40 No. 1 country hits, third to George Strait and Conway Twitty. He has sold more than 35 million albums during his career and was selected for induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2014.

    Born nearly blind due to a congenital disorder, Milsap was abandoned by his mother as an infant and raised by his grandparents in the Smoky Mountains. At the age of five, he was sent to the Governor Morehead School for the Blind in Raleigh, N.C. He eventually lost his remaining vision. When he was seven, his instructors began to notice his musical talents. Soon afterward, he began studying classical music and learned several instruments, mastering the piano.

    During his early years, as he struggled to make a name for himself on the music scene, he met and married Joyce Reeves. In the late 1960s and early 70s, Milsap worked as a session musician, playing for several well-known artists. Among those was Elvis Presley, with whom he played on “Don’t Cry Daddy” in 1969 and “Kentucky Rain” in 1970.

    After a chance meeting with country music star Charley Pride in 1972, Milsap signed with RCA Nashville and released his first top 10 hit “I Hate You”, then following that with No. 1 singles “Pure Love” and “Please Don’t Tell Me How the Story Ends”, which won Milsap his first Grammy. In 1975, he scored another No. 1 with “Daydreams About Night Things”.

    From 1976 to 1978, Milsap became one of country music’s biggest stars, scoring seven No. 1 singles in a row, including the Grammy-winning “(I’m a) Stand by My Woman Man” and “What A Different You’ve Made in My Life”. The most significant of this series of hits was “It Was Almost Like A Song” in 1977, which became his most successful single of the 1970s.

    Milsap’s sound shifted toward string-laden pop during the late 1970s which resulted in crossover success on the pop charts beginning in the early 1980s. In 1979, he had a No. 1 single, a Top 5 single, and a Top 10 single on the country charts. From 1980 until 1983, he scored a series of 11 No. 1 singles. Milsap’s Greatest Hits album, released in 1980, included a new single, “Smoky Mountain Rain”, which became a No. 1 smash on the country charts. The single peaked in the Top 40 on the pop music chart and also became the first of two Milsap songs to score No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary chart.

    Other crossover successes included the Top 5 pop single, “(There’s) No Gettin’ Over Me”, and two Top 20 songs in “I Wouldn’t Have Missed It For the World” and “Any Day Now”, the latter which lasted five weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s Adult Contemporary chart. He also had some success with “He Got You”. All four songs reached No. 1 on the country music charts.

    While the performance by Milsap will be the highlight of the Gala, the black-tie event also features a meal prior to the music.

    Various levels of sponsorships are available to help the efforts of the college with individual tickets and tables available for purchase. For sponsorships, tickets or information, call 409-984-6262.

    Lamar State’s first gala was developed in 2004 to benefit cultural and visual arts at the Museum of the Gulf Coast, and to provide support for the college’s “Discovery” youth program, Alumni Fund, athletic scholarships, musical and theatrical productions  and a variety of special projects, such as Lamar State’s July 4 celebration and the Regional Citizen Bee.
    Industry awards and honors
    Academy of Country Music
    1982: Top Male Vocalist
    1985: Song of the Year – “Lost in the Fifties Tonight”
    1988: Instrumentalist of the Year, Keyboards
    2002: Pioneer Award
    Billboard magazine
    1980: No. 1 Country Song of the Year – “My Heart”
    1985: No. 1 Country Song of the Year – “Lost in the Fifties Tonight”
    Country Music Association
    1974: Male Vocalist of the Year
    1975: Album of the Year – “A Legend in My Time”
    1976: Male Vocalist of the Year
    1977: Album of the Year – “Ronnie Milsap Live”
    1977: Entertainer of the Year
    1977: Male Vocalist of the Year
    1978: Album of the Year – “It Was Almost Like a Song”
    1986: Album of the Year – “Lost in the Fifties Tonight
    Country Music Hall of Fame 2014 Inductee
    Grammy awards
    1975: Best Male Country Vocal Performance – “Please Don’t Tell Me How The Story Ends”
    1977: Best Male Country Vocal Performance – “(I’m a) Stand by My Woman Man”
    1982: Best Male Country Vocal Performance – “(There’s) No Gettin’ Over Me”
    1986: Best Male Country Vocal Performance – “Lost in the Fifties Tonight”
    1987: Best Male Country Vocal Performance – “Lost in the Fifties Tonight”
    1988: Best Country Collaboration with Vocals – “Make No Mistake, She’s Mine” (w/ Kenny Rogers)
    Music City News Country
    1975: Most Promising Male Artist
    Miscellaneous achievements
    -40 No. 1 hits, 35 of which reached the top spot on the Billboard chart; the remaining 5 topped other trade charts including Cashbox
    -Over 35 million albums sold
    -Inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 1976
    -Inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in 2002
    -Awarded the Career Achievement Award by Country Radio Seminar in 2006
    -Awarded the 2007 Rocketown Legend Award