Live Oak —
One of the most distinctive voices in country music is coming to the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park this weekend. Seven-time Grammy award winner Randy Travis will take the main stage at the Suwannee River Jam at 5 p.m. Saturday, May 5.
“I'm very honored to be doing that and it'll be good to be back in the area again, because it's been a little while,” Travis said. “The people there are always just wonderful to us and I'm looking forward to it.”
Travis has always maintained a unique connection with his fans and now enjoys the elite status of having listeners of several generations. When asked how he is able to stay connected with his fans, Travis acknowledged that airplay really helps.
“Another thing is that I'm still out there playing shows,” he explained. “So, it's pretty easy to stay connected. Hopefully, I'll be getting some more airplay on some newer songs as the years go by.”
Travis’s Suwannee River Jam appearance is part of his 2012 concert tour, which is in celebration of his 25th anniversary in the music business. Over that time, Travis has racked up 18 number one singles, eight platinum albums, 10 gold albums and eight Dove Awards from the Gospel Music Association. He is a three-time recipient of CMA Award’s “Song of the Year’’ honors with On The Other Hand, Forever and Ever Amen and Three Wooden Crosses.
In addition to his stellar music career, Travis has also enjoyed an impressive acting career. With more than 40 appearances in television and film, he was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2004 and the iconic entertainer shows no sign of slowing down.
“I truly love acting and have fun with it, especially Westerns. I have a new movie project that's in the works,” Travis said of his acting career.
While Travis is passionate about his singing and acting careers, he is also very passionate about the Wounded Warrior Project. In May of 2011, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store® released the 11-track CD, Randy Travis, which benefited the national Wounded Warriors Project.
“I try to work with the Wounded Warrior Project every chance that I get” the singer explained. “It is something that means a lot to me. I've been involved with and had the honor of meeting military men and women for a lot of years, spending time with them at Walter Reed Hospital, as well as USO tours.”
As Travis continues looking toward new projects, he remembers the artists that have influenced him along the way. According to Travis, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Hank Williams Sr. and Lefty Frizzell all had an influence on his music career.
“Those are my main influences,” Travis explained. “I learned to sing and also a little about writing from all those guys.”
According to Travis, songwriting is something that he really enjoys.
“I really do enjoy songwriting, especially on those good days,” Travis began. “Now, there's also a chemistry thing. There are a few people I've written with over the years and we always finish the day with sometimes two or even three songs written, and I love that. You just sit and throw ideas back and forth. Actually, you joke a whole lot too. It's just an wonderful thing for me. But, I promise you that if you had asked any of my teachers in school if I'd ever be a writer, I guarantee that you would have heard, no way will this boy ever write anything.”
Another country music icon that Travis enjoyed being around was Roy Acuff. According to Travis, they enjoyed talking about the tradition of country music.
“It was pretty neat being around Roy Acuff. I loved talking to him about music and had that opportunity on several occasions. He talked about his love for traditional country music and once told me not to change what I was doing and not to attempt to do a more crossover kind of style. I told him that I was in no danger there. I don't think I could do anything else.”
In addition to their conversations about music, Travis shared a story about a conversation he once had with Roy Acuff concerning the different places they performed in.
“I really enjoyed the times I was able to be around Roy Acuff. He talked about how he played in some bars, basically, when he was a younger man and some of them being rough places,” Travis explained. “Also, he mentioned how there were times he even got into a fight. I once told him that I've played in some of those places too and, unfortunately, had to get into a few fights. He asked if I was a fighter because that excited him. I said well, I'm not going to say I'm the best, but I've been in a lot of fights. Then he told me that's good to hear. When he was a younger man, if he hit a fella and he didn't go down, he would walk around to see what was propping him up.”
While Randy Travis has enjoyed success in country music, he readily admits the satisfaction that he finds in performing gospel music.
“I've heard preachers and others who sing gospel music speak of an anointing and, maybe, that's exactly what that is. For me, there's also a satisfaction because I have heard so many comments from people through these years of performing gospel songs about how the music has touched their lives so much. So, for me that's very special.”
While his music and acting careers keep him busy, Travis still finds a little time to just watch a movie from time to time, he said. He also enjoys riding horses and still likes to shoot pistols, rifles and shotguns as much as he can.
Although sales of his music exceed 20 million units to date, the North Carolina native continues performing and recording. When asked if he might consider recording more standard songs, Travis acknowledged it is something that has been discussed.
“It's funny that you asked that because me and the guys at Warner Bros. have talked about that very thing for several years now,” Travis said. “If we could go back and grab some of that old Stonewall Jackson, Haggard, Jones, Ernest Tubb, and Hank. Just a whole bunch of songs that I grew up listening to. I would like to do that type of project one day. Every once in awhile, I'll turn on the satellite radio channel that plays all that stuff from the 60s, 70s and into the 80s. It's neat to hear. It really is.”
As Travis plans and works on new projects, his timeless hits are sure to flow, allowing listeners of all ages to enjoy more of the traditional sound that has made him a country music icon. In the meantime, he has given fans almost three decades of classics that they too find neat to hear.