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Milsap, Cochran, Wiseman to join country hall

Tuesday, April 22, 2014 – The Country Music Association announced today that Hank Cochran, Mac Wiseman and Ronnie Milsap will be joining the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Cochran will be inducted in the rotating Songwriter category. Wiseman will be inducted in the Veteran category. Milsap will be the 2014 inductee in the Modern Era category.

"They let me know a few weeks ago," Milsap said after the induction, "and not telling anyone has been the hardest thing, because it's one of those dreams that just... It's one of the things I've always wanted. The idea that this music meant enough to people, held their lives and loves so that it made a mark that lasted."

Cochran, who died in 2010 at 75, enjoyed 29 top 10 hits over a 30-year span. His hits include "Make the World Go Away" and "I Fall to Pieces" have both been recorded by more than 100 artists. "Don't Touch Me," "The Chair," "Don't You Ever Get Tired of Hurting Me," "I Fall to Pieces" and "She's Got You" are other Cochran hits.

Born in rural Mississippi, Cochran dropped out of school at 12 and hitchhiked to New Mexico with his uncle. They both went to work on oil rigs. At 16, Cochran went further west to California and later served in the army and working at Sears, Roebuck. He scored a songwriting job at the West Coast branch of Pamper Music and transferred to company headquarters in Nashville in 1960. He also recruited Willie Nelson to join the firm's writing staff.

In 1961, Patsy Cline's version of "I Fall to Pieces" (co-written with Harlan Howard) became Cochran's first big songwriting success. By the end of 1962, he'd written 10 charted singles. Cline, Ray Price, Eddy Arnold, Norma Jean, and Cochran's then-wife Jeannie Seely sang his songs during the 1960s. Merle Haggard had a number one hit with Cochran's "It's Not Love (But It's Not Bad)" in 1972. Cochran's "She's Got You" (Loretta Lynn), "That's All That Matters" (Mickey Gilley), and "Don't You Ever Get Tired of Hurting Me" (Milsap) were all chart toppers.

Cochran enjoyed another period of success during the 1980s with new songs recorded by Vern Gosdin, Keith Whitley, and George Strait. During his lifetime, Cochran recorded his own albums for RCA, Monument, Capitol, and Elektra.

Wiseman, 89, was a popular bluegrass vocalist. He is known for his Dot Records interpretations of songs including "Shackles and Chains," "Jimmy Brown the Newsboy," "I'll Be All Smiles Tonight" and "Love Letters in the Sand." He also was as a sideman with Flatt & Scruggs and with Bill Monroe, featured vocalist with Molly O'Day, country recording director for Dot (1955-59), and a founding member and first secretary of CMA (1958).

Wiseman was born in Crimora, Va. in 1925. Early in his career, he worked at WSVA in Harrisonburg. Following his service with O'Day, Flatt & Scruggs, and Monroe, Wiseman began recording for Dot in 1951.

While continuing to record, he became a Dot producer. After 1965, Wiseman became a favorite on the bluegrass festival circuit, and hosted his own festival in Renfro Valley, Kentucky, from 1970 to 1983. He has recorded for Capitol, MGM, RCA, Churchill and CMH Recordsd.

Milsap, 71, is known for his soulful singing during his four-decades long career. His music has encompassed country, country-pop, rock, rhythm & blues, funk, pop, and classical music made the singer-keyboardist a formidable entertainer who defies narrow classification. He has earned 6 Grammy awards for Best Male Country Vocal performance, 4 CMA awards, and 35 number 1 hits.

Born blind into an Appalachian family named Millsaps on Jan. 16, 1943 in Robbinsville, N.C., he went to live with grandparents at age 1. According to his 1990 autobiography, "It Was Almost Like a Song," his mother regarded his blindness as divine punishment and asked his father to take Ronnie away. At six, having heard gospel music at church and country music via radio, he entered the State School for the Blind in Raleigh, N.C.

Milsap released his debut single, "Total Disaster," in 1963 on Atlanta's Princess Records. He chose music over law school, and he was recording R&B-tinged pop for New York's Scepter label by 1965. A 1968 move to Memphis led him to Chips Moman's American Studio. Milsap played piano and sang on Elvis Presley's "Kentucky Rain" (1970) and recorded briefly for Moman's Chips label; he then cut LPs for Warner Bros. and Reprise in 1971-72.

Milsap moved to Nashville in 1972 and began a long association with RCA Records in 1973. Milsap started charting with country fare including "I Hate You" and "That Girl Who Waits on Tables" (1973). He won a 1974 Grammy for his number 1 take on Kris Kristofferson's "Please Don't Tell Me How the Story Ends." His hits "Pure Love" (1974) and "Daydreams About Night Things" (1975) showcased him as a singer of positive, uptempo love songs. Hits continued in 1976 with "What Goes On When the Sun Goes Down" and the Grammy-winning "(I'm a) Stand by My Woman Man." He was CMA's Male Vocalist of the Year in 1974, 1976, and 1977, he was the organization's 1977 Entertainer of the Year.

Milsap enjoyed 42 top 10 songs between 1976 and 1991, including "Back on My Mind Again" (1978-79), "I Wouldn't Have Missed It for the World " (1981-82), and 1981's "There's No Gettin' Over Me" (another Grammy winner). The 1985 single "Lost in the Fifties Tonight (In the Still of the Night" offered Milsap's R&B roots and secured his fourth and fifth Grammys.

Milsap continued hits in the 1980s and 1990s. He has continued releasing music, including "Summer Number Seventeen" earlier this year.

More news for Ronnie Milsap

CD reviews for Ronnie Milsap

Summer Number Seventeen CD review - Summer Number Seventeen
Quick, what guy compiled 40 number one country singles, recorded with everybody from Ray Charles to Elvis, but has yet to be enshrined in the Country Music Hall of Fame? Yes, it's Ronnie Milsap, now in his 70s, just like Merle Haggard (who was inducted 20 years ago). Clearly, the ornery outlaws get more attention than the nice guy romantics. And it doesn't help that Milsap has always been interested in many different flavors of music, from '70s Philadelphia Soul to '50s doo-wop. »»»
Then Sings My Soul: 24 Favorite Hymns & Gospel Songs CD review - Then Sings My Soul: 24 Favorite Hymns & Gospel Songs
Ronnie Milsap's first gospel release and first album in 3 years is a double-disc set packing in 24 tracks with a far-reaching selection of songs. There are gospel standards (such as Peace In The Valley and Soon And Very Soon), classic hymns (like How Great Thou Art and Softly And Tenderly), a couple of re-worked secular songs (Ben E. King's Stand By Me and Milsap's own 1978 number 1 What A Difference You've Made In My Life) and a few new songs (World Of Wonder). »»»
My Life CD review - My Life
It is a sad fact of human nature that we do not realize what we have until it's gone. Ronnie Milsap, thankfully, is still very much with us, but it may not be until after his passing and the inevitable biopic (a la Ray Charles and Johnny Cash) that we realize what an extraordinary story this singularly talented man has lived. Born blind and into abject Appalachian poverty, he was abandoned by his mother, classically trained on the piano, started out as a soul musician, moved to Nashville and »»»
Editorial: Walking the talk – When names like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Waylon and the Hag are invoked, you're talking hard core country. These are the touchstones of country , the guys who made country music what it was and still is (or maybe can be). When these folks would sing about being down-and-out and the rough-and-tumble, they knew of what they were singing about. Fast forward a few years to the country singers of today. »»»
Concert Review: Kristofferson gives insight, but no easy answers – When they say music gets better with age, they're not always just talking about songs alone; sometimes they're also referring to the listener. When Kris Kristofferson sings, "Well, I woke up Sunday morning/With no way to hold my head that didn't hurt," to smartly open "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down," he... »»»
Concert Review: No sugarcoating, Welch dishes out an experience – Gillian Welch (accompanied, as always, by master guitarist David Rawlings), celebrated her "The Harrow & The Harvest" album with a powerful night of music. She apologized many times for the utter unhappiness expressed through this album's songs, admitting it's "not the most chipper album" at one point.... »»»
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