Between forty chart-topping singles, seven Grammy Awards, and four Academy of Country Music Awards, 66-year-old Ronnie Milsap is one of the most decorated stars of his genre. But that illustrious career almost never happened. Born blind, Milsap was abandoned by his mother and told that his blindness was a curse from God. But Milsap trusted in God nonetheless, and went on to attend school, aiming to become a lawyer—but he couldn't shake the music bug, and with a nudge from Ray Charles, Milsap ended up on studios and stages rather than in the courtroom. Now that Milsap is releasing his first-ever Christian collection—Then Sings My Soul: 24 Favorite Hymns & Gospel Songs (Star Song/EMI)—we thought it'd be a good time to catch up with the legend and talk about his rocky childhood, an enduring faith, and his latest project.

What is your recollection of your young childhood?

Ronnie Milsap: I remember my uncle and my father telling me that my mother didn't want me because I was blind. She thought being blind was a disgrace and a punishment from God. I understand that a lot of young mothers probably wouldn't know what to do in that situation, but over your life you learn to forgive everything.

[After my mother abandoned me], I grew up with my grandparents in a very small house in the mountains of western North Carolina. There was a lot of love there, and they took me to church, which was the first time I learned I could memorize music very quickly. Also, the radio played a big role early in my life. I think I first took it apart when I was three or four because I was so interested in how it worked!

Eventually I was sent to a school for the blind in Raleigh, North Carolina when I was six, which is when I discovered I ...

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