The North Carolina Board of Transportation voted on Dec. 2 to rename a six-mile stretch of US 129 near the singer's hometown of Robbinsville as the Ronnie Milsap Highway.
Per a press release, the Graham County Board of Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution on Sept. 17, 2019 to rename the section as part of the NCDOT application process. Parts of it read, "Milsap has made a significant contribution to the national music industry," and Milsap, "is widely known by residents and visitors of Graham County as a national music entertainer," and that he, "embodies the values and heritage that make Graham County strong in its cultural heritage."
"I am truly humbled by the honor of having a road named for me in my hometown of Robbinsville, N.C." Milsap wrote to the Graham County Board of Commissioners. "It was there that I learned at a young age to be a proud son of Graham County and the State of North Carolina."
Milsap was born in the small Graham Country town on Jan. 16, 1943. He was raised in poverty in the Smoky Mountain region before he was sent to the Governor Morehead School For the Blind in Raleigh, North Carolina at age five.
Elvis Presley inspired Milsap to chase his musical dreams, first as an R&B artist in Atlanta and a session musician in Memphis and ultimately as one of the top Nashville stars of the '70s and '80s.
His first taste of success came when he recorded Ashford & Simpson's "Never Had It So Good" in 1965 for Scepter Records. Its B-side, "Let's Go Get Stoned," became a No. 1 hit for another piano player with Georgia ties, Ray Charles. Both were preceded by Milsap's first single, 1962's "Total Disaster."
He jumped over to country music with his 1971 debut album for Warner Bros. Nashville and became a star when 1973's Where My Heart Is (RCA Records) signaled his mainstream arrival.
Noteworthy recordings since then include such successes on the country charts and pop charts as "I Hate You," "Smoky Mountain Rain," "Pure Love, "Any Day Now," "It Was Almost Like a Song," "Stranger in My House," "I Wouldn't Have Missed It For the World," "What a Difference You Made in My Life," "(There's) No Gettin Over Me" and "Lost in the Fifties Tonight." As a duet partner, he won a Grammy for Kenny Rogers collaboration "Make No Mistake, She's Mine."
Additional honors include the Country Music Association (CMA) Entertainer of the Year award for 1977 plus three Male Vocalist of the Year wins and four Album of the Year honors. He's also a Grand Ole Opry member.
The country singer's been married to his wife Joyce since 1965.