Ronnie Milsap was one of the major figures of country music in the 1970s, developing a hybrid of country and pop that brought him a large audience. Milsap was born in Robbinsville, NC, and was raised by his father and grandparents following his parents' divorce. He was born blind from congenital glaucoma, and when he was five, he began attending the Governor Moorhead School for the Blind. When he was seven, his instructors noticed his extraordinary musical talents and he began to study classical music formally. A single year after he began learning the violin, Milsap was declared a virtuoso; he also mastered piano, guitar, and a variety of other stringed instruments, as well as various woodwinds. Eventually, he became interested in rock & roll music and while still in school formed his first rock band, the Apparitions. He briefly attended college in Atlanta where he studied pre-law; though he was awarded a comprehensive scholarship, Milsap decided to become a full-time musician instead. His first professional gig was as a member of J.J. Cale's band in the early '60s.