Those formative teenage years set a tone for an entire lifetime. Personal battles, career goals, ideas about love – figuring out how all of that will play out during adulthood is one of the big chores of those high-school years. Setting the backdrop for much of that inner struggle is the music – it’s the soundtrack of one’s identity, the bond that glues generations.
That idea is at the heart of Ronnie Milsap’s Summer #17, an album that explores the influences on a musician who built a Hall of Fame-caliber career, who became one of the most influential voices in country music’s storied history.
Milsap emulated James Taylor in his vocal approach to “(There’s) No Gettin’ Over Me,” a #1 record in country and pop; hooked into the instructions he got playing piano on Elvis Presley sessions to build the sound of “Smoky Mountain Rain,” another major crossover hit; and recorded an entire album of songs made famous by late Country Music Hall of Famer Jim Reeves.
Milsap used pop, rock and R&B elements to test country’s borders, and did so in a way that connected fiercely with the music-buying public. He compiled 40 #1 country hits. Milsap’s sales accrued eight gold albums; his Greatest Hits made him one of the first acts in any genre to obtain double-platinum status after the RIAA introduced the multi-platinum honor in 1984.
Milsap earned a reputation for his meticulous recordings. He purchased a Music Row studio from Roy Orbison, renamed it Ground Star Laboratory, and experimented with elaborate keyboard parts, inventive guitar sounds and multi-layered vocals. It was a precursor to the modern recording era, where artists such as Reba McEntire, Martina McBride, Brad Paisley and Steve Wariner have built their own recording facilities. Milsap’s former studio – which has been used by Merle Haggard, Ricky Skaggs and Pistol Annies – appropriately still operates today, lovingly re-branded Ronnie’s Place.
What the kids are doing today in redefining country is nothing new. They’re simply carrying on a master plan Milsap laid down years ago.
Showtime: 8:00pm | Doors Open: 7:00pm
Admission fee: Tickets Only - $19.95 -$69.95 | Dinner and Theater - $36.95-$86.95
Shipshewana Event Center
760 S Van Buren St, Shipshewana, IN 46565