A Country Superstar Looks Forward to the Past on Summer Number Seventeen

Our conversation with former CMA Entertainer of the Year Ronnie Milsap continues with these reflections on his new Legacy recordings album, Summer Number Seventeen, released Jan. 28.

Why did you decide to head back into the studio three years after your previous album, Country Again?

A good friend of mine named Rob Galbraith, who usually produces all my records, is always saying, “Man, you’re in such good voice right now, it seems a shame that you’re not in there, recording.” So when I recorded this new album that’s coming out, it was mostly because he said, “You’ve got to be in the studio, recording. Your voice is so good. It’s a shame if you don’t get in and record some every day.” I said, “OK, let’s do it!”

A lot of the songs on this new album were just because he and I were both curious about them and were thinking what it would be like if I sang “What Becomes of the Broken Hearted” or “It’s All in the Game.” We’ve known a lot of these songs ever since we were young.

What makes your new album different from what you’ve done before?

I don’t know how different it’s going to be. When my manager, Bert Stein, went to New York, the folks at Sony Legacy said they wanted this album. Then we started checking our song list with the folks in New York. They liked what we were thinking about recording because we had it pretty well planned out. I’ve always been signed to RCA Nashville. I don’t know yet what it’ll be like to be signed to Sony New York. I know they have the capability of really marketing this.

Summer Number Seventeen has really interesting selection of songs. How did you choose what to record?

I was just cutting things that I love. When we cut it, the folks in New York loved it. I really wanted to cut one song real bad, but New York said, “We don’t want you to do that.” It was a LaVern Baker song, called “Jim Dandy to the Rescue.” I wanted to cut that so bad, and they said, “We don’t think that works.” I took their advice on that because they also said, “Can you find a traditional Country song and do your version of it?” I knew what they were looking for. They were looking for something like Ray Charles singing “I Can’t Stop Loving You.” And I’m thinking, “We ought to be able to do that.” So Rob Galbraith and I got together and said, “The one song that has not been beaten to death in this catalog is “I Can’t Help it If I’m Still in Love with You,” the Hank Williams song. Ray didn’t even record that. So we did that and it came out just great.

How do you expect the album to do commercially?

Now the thing is, you’re trying to sell records. If you sell records, it always feels so good. If you don’t, you have to change the formula somehow. It was very easy, working with RCA Nashville and turning it into Joe Galante or Jerry Bradley. The promotion people always told me that they liked it and they got airplay. A lot of that was predictable, so if I missed on it a little bit, I could make up on it for the next record. I don’t know how this is going to sell. I’m kind of in the dark on this. I’m working with a company out of New York. But it’s a great record company and they have ways to market this correctly. I’m looking forward to what I’m going to be able to do.

CMA Members: For more conversation with Ronnie Milsap, see your April/May 2014 issue of CMA Close Up!


  • Daniel Embody

    Here is my idea of a country song. Have a female country music artist sing the “home fires burning” song that Ronnie did. In the video portion, have a house husband be the one keeping the home fires burning.