Mayor Megan Berry kicked off the evening by declaring Feb. 8, 2017, Randy Travis Day. Over the course of the show, Travis’ band backed the more than 30-artist lineup that included
“What doesn’t he mean to country music, especially to someone who grew up as a baritone singer in country music?” asked Young, who performed This is Me. “I would just constantly sing his stuff. He means a whole lot to a lot of singers, not just me.”
Travis’ wife, Mary, believes his songs saved his life. In 2013 Travis had a stroke that paralyzed the right side of his body and left him unable to speak or walk. During a five-and-a-half-month hospitalization, a series of infections nearly killed him. Travis can now walk and is relearning how to speak.
“I wondered if those songs were running through his head,” she said. “Is he having that talk with Jesus? Does he know that I’m going to love him forever and ever, amen? I think his relationship with songs and music is what got him through this, and I can only imagine, once he starts talking to us again, what kind of songs that he’s going to give us.”
During the show, Travis’ longtime label, Warner Music Nashville, surprised the singer with a career achievement award in recognition of more than 25 million albums sold, 22 No. 1 hits and six No. 1 albums, worldwide.
The Travises watched from their seats on the stage as Janson brought the house down with Look Heart No Hands. Johnson delivered an emotional version of Promises with backup from Krauss.
A portion of proceeds from the evening go to benefit the Randy Travis Foundation, a non-profit that provides support for victims of strokes and cardiovascular diseases as well as arts and entertainment education for at-risk children. Mary Travis said she wants to focus on supporting early detection of stroke and viral cardiomyopathy in hopes that an early diagnosis would prevent others from the suffering her husband has endured.
“Try it all, that’s been our theory with Randy,” she said of different treatments. “If it’s not going to hurt him, let’s give it a shot. My prayer and if I ever had a message for family members (of stroke victims), it’s don’t ever give up.”