How does country music icon Ronnie Milsap, who has influenced the genre for more than 30 years, top his six Grammys, six Billboard awards, eight CMA awards, three ACM and four Cashbox awards, has had an astounding 40 #1 singles and has sold well over 23,000,000 records. For Milsap, it's easy. He performs a history-making concert, aptly titled Ronnie Milsap: Live, for release on DVD, VHS and CD via Image Entertainment - and heads out in a new musical direction. Enthralled with DVD technology, Milsap says, "The most interesting thing that I've done, and the thing that I'm most proud of ever, is this DVD project. To have a chance to be in this new technology with a DVD that documents my music and the setting of that show - it totally captures it for me. Even though I'm not able to see the DVD, I'm certainly aware of the multi-channel surround sound and what it means for fans."
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Milsap and Image Entertainment, long recognized as the market leader in licensing, distribution and production of music video long forms and DVDs, matched their creative strengths to capture this amazing performance, which was recorded in Biloxi, Mississippi, on January 20, 2002. The CD (release date May 21st) clocks in at just under 74 minutes, while the DVD and VHS formats (release date September 17th) offer a generous 91 minutes that balances an intimate view of the sold-out show, in which Milsap and his longtime band include many hits and personal favorites from his prolific career, along with an in-depth interview.
Milsap who produced the new album with Rob Galbraith, regards this title, only his second live album, as a continuation of 40 #1 Hits, released in 2000, and marvels, "This is my first project that we actually mixed on the computer, which is different from sitting in a control room with a big audio console." While the CD hints at Milsap's fresh approach with the standard, "My Babe," the DVD and VHS versions provide a full segment of great American music, such as "My Funny Valentine," "If Not for Me" and "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning," all of which Milsap performs with a few members of his band and a 20- piece orchestra.
"Charlie Callelo wrote some great arrangements," Milsap points out in speaking of the renowned producer (Bruce Springsteen, Barbra Streisand, Lorrie Morgan) and original member of the Four Seasons. "He's a real pro, and is always able to deliver something new and fresh.
In defining the new era which Ronnie Milsap: Live represents, he states, "Country music has been really, really good to me, and I've always been in a situation where I wasn't exactly going to stay in one box. I'd do a certain type of record, and I've had my own studio for close to 20 years now on Music Row, and was in a position where I had artistic freedom to look around and try different things. At the same time, I had my hits on country radio, and it's phenomenal to have a career that's lasted this long."
While Milsap continues to be synonymous with country music, he's always been about much more than that, delving into blues, R&B, and even a touch of pop from time to time. Interpreting the standards of George & Ira Gershwin, Rodgers & Hart and Cole Porter is yet another creative and evocative expression for him - and a gift to others.
"I studied classical music while at school in Raleigh. Performing standards is a natural evolution for me," Milsap explains, "While my roots will always be in country music, it's my ambition that around this time next year, I'll be on the jazz charts with a new album. I have so much love and passion for the music. I'm so excited about it."
The past meets the future in the exhilarating immediacy of Ronnie Milsap: Live, and we're all given a front row seat for this rare experience.
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