Country legend Ronnie Milsap came to our local state fairgrounds for a concert recently. He told the story of his first encounter with Brother Ray Charles. I have paraphrased the story as Mr. Milsap told it that night. When Ronnie graduated from the school for the blind in North Carolina he'd had 12 years of classical musician training and had decided to be a musician-especially since he'd played the piano since the age of 8. His counselors suggested being a lawyer or a teacher would be more productive-since he'd be a failure as a musician. Of course, the first thing Ronnie did after graduation was head to Atlanta to a Ray Charles concert and got backstage for a Meet and Greet. At that meeting, Ronnie started playing the piano and Ray heard him and after the introductions they began talking. Ronnie mentioned his counselor's suggestions as to career-to which Ray replied (paraphrasing Ronnie Milsap)-"If music's in your heart and you got the itch-if you don't scratch it boy you're miserable-so always go with what's in your heart and you'll be fine". Soon after Ronnie Milsap became Ray Charles' opening act on tour and learned a lot of his bluesy sounds from Brother Ray. All this happened about the time Ray Charles came out with his "Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music". After telling this story, Ronnie went into a Ray Charles styled version of Hank Williams' "Your Cheatin' Heart".
I later found a video on YouTube of Brother Ray and Ronnie doing that very song and posted it in my video collection here.
I have included this story here because when I heard it the other night and heard Brother Ray's response to Ronnie's career dilemma it reminded me of Taylor and his situation and his decision to go into music-also of his love for Ray Charles and thought it appropriate for the story to be posted here.