Randy Travis marks 10th anniversary of stroke with pair of tribute concerts

"It would be different if we could have designed it, but we are OK," his wife, Mary, said during a recent virtual press conference.

Randy Travis and Mary Davis arrive on the red carpet for the 2023 Academy of Country Music Awards at The Star in Frisco, Texas, on May 11. File Photo by Ian Halperin/UPI
1 of 3 | Randy Travis and Mary Davis arrive on the red carpet for the 2023 Academy of Country Music Awards at The Star in Frisco, Texas, on May 11. File Photo by Ian Halperin/UPI | License Photo

NEW YORK, Oct. 24 (UPI) -- It has been 10 years since Grammy winner and Country Music Hall of Fame member Randy Travis suffered the stroke that ultimately robbed him of his iconic voice.

To mark the occasion of his survival and celebrate his storied career, performers will sing from the Travis songbook at tribute shows at the VBC Probst Arena in Huntsville, Ala., on Tuesday and at the Texas Trust CU Theatre in Grand Prairie, Texas, on Nov. 15.


Travis, who has speech-limiting aphasia that prevents him from speaking or singing at length, and his wife plan to attend both concerts.

"It is 10 years out and we feel so blessed that we get to still be here, listen to music, listen to some of the great stars who make music and hear some of the stories from the great artists and the fans talking about how Randy Travis touched their lives," Mary -- with Randy sitting by her side, smiling and nodding -- told reporters in a recent virtual press conference.


"People always say, 'Well, God left him here for a reason,' and every, single day, we see what that reason is."

Best known for his songs "Forever and Ever, Amen," "I Won't Need You Anymore (Always and Forever)," "Too Gone Too Long," "I Told You So," "Honky Tonk Moon," "Deeper Than the Holler" and "Is It Still Over?" the 64-year-old North Carolina native also acted in The Rainmaker, The Long Ride Home and Touched By An Angel and co-authored the 2019 memoir, Forever and Ever Amen.

"We talk to so many young artists," Mary said. "It doesn't matter if they are the more progressive rock/country or if they are the old country traditional, they still listen to Randy Travis. He had a sound that covered a lot of territory."

Tuesday's lineup will include Aaron Lewis, Ben Haggard, Craig Campbell, James Dupre, Dennis Quaid, Shenandoah, Taylor Hicks, Lee Roy Parnell and Thompson Square.


The lineup for the Texas date is being finalized.

"The difference will be that, in Alabama, there will be a lot of the Nashville contingent," Mary said, noting Huntsville is only about 90 minutes from Nashville.

"In Texas, we will focus on the Texas artists -- people born here that may have moved elsewhere. People who were born elsewhere, but came to Texas because they were more [comfortable] in the Texas music scene."

Although not ideal, Mary said Randy's circumstances mean they can travel and actually watch other artists perform.

"We've had the opportunity to go to concerts, which big artists don't get to do. They sing and they get on the bus and they go somewhere else," Mary said. "We have found so many great artists, so we're excited about this."

Who will sing what at the tribute concert was between the artists and the show's producers.

"The [singers] put in their preferences," Mary said.

"I don't know if they draw straws or flip a coin or play rock, paper, scissors. I'm not sure how they finally settle it. There may even be some duets. There's a lot to look forward to."

The couple also established the Randy Travis Foundation after the singer's health crisis to raise money and awareness for victims of strokes and cardiovascular ​diseases, as well as for music education for at-risk youth.


"We need more people to understand what stroke and aphasia are and how they can affect your life," Mary said.

"It was like [driving] 100 mph and hitting a brick wall. We learned so much, so fast," she added, noting what happened to Randy could happen to just about anyone.

"It doesn't matter if you are a country music star or a school teacher or a police officer or a stay-at-home mom, which is one of the greatest careers of all time."

That said, Mary said she and Randy don't want people to pity them.

"It would be different if we could have designed it, but we are OK," Mary said, acknowledging it is painful for both her and her husband when fans greet Randy in public and seem disappointed that he didn't speak to them.

"He does what he can and he lights up a room, but I don't want people to misunderstand aphasia," she added. "We want to enlighten people on what aphasia is. [People with it] understand everything. It's just that they can't communicate."

If people see him out and about -- whether it is at a restaurant or a rodeo -- they should feel comfortable approaching him.


"He loves his fans. He always has and he always will," Mary said.

Generally speaking, she added, it is important for people to recognize who and where they are, and then figure out how they can make a difference in the world.

"Whatever it was, [it] was in God's plan. [Randy] makes his music still; it's just a different way," she said, adding that at least one more album using previously recorded, but unreleased material with Randy on vocals, will be on the way soon.

"It will be a whole new album of Randy Travis music. We look forward to it. It's beautiful," Mary said.

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