Epic Musical Grand Salute To Randy Travis
When megastars, superstars and legends gather to sing for an artist with equivalent status, it is more than a statement, it is a mega shout-out and a declaration of mutual respect.
That is what happened Wednesday night when Garth Brooks, Alabama, Tanya Tucker, Kenny Rogers, The Bellamy Brothers, Alison Krauss and so many other celebrities with names that country music fans would reverently inhale merely by mentioning them, along with new artists humbly acknowledging the honor of being a part of something great, were performing at the sold out Bridgestone Arena to honor country music icon Randy Travis.
Not only did artists, friends and heroes show up for this “1 Night. 1 Place. 1 Time: A Heroes and Friends Tribute to Randy Travis” as the event was called, but Nashville’s mayor, Megan Barry, made an appearance declaring February 8 as Randy Travis Day. The governor of Tennessee, Bill Haslam, also came to announce that the day is now Stroke Awareness Day in Tennessee. Randy Travis and his wife Mary had earlier during the day visited the Capitol to raise awareness about stroke care and stroke prevention.
Travis was having the biggest time of his life at the loud-crowd cheered-on concert judged by the way he was smiling, laughing and beaming with joy bright like a neon honky tonk sign, moving his legs and feet and wagging back and forth to the music. A true miracle if anyone is, after doctors said there was nothing they could do after his stroke, he was sitting holding hands with Mary not in front row seats, but in on stage seats as if enjoying a living room concert as friends and heroes like Wynonna sang “On The Other Hand”, Scotty McCreery did “1982” (shy of eleven years before he was born), Chris Janson “Look Heart No Hands” (receiving a standing ovation), James Dupre with Shane Owens performed the theme song of the evening “Heroes And Friends” (Randy Travis appears in Shane’s music video “Country Never Goes Out Of Style”) and Josh Turner had the honor of singing “Three Wooden Crosses”. Part of the Grand Ole Opry family, including the upcoming members Dailey & Vincent, paid their tribute with “I’ll Fly Away”. The line up and the song list were both extensive and impressive and more than well deserved by a Country Music Hall of Famer, Grand Ole Opry member, ten-time AMA winner, ten-time ACM winner, three-time CMA Song of the Year awardee and many more including having sold over twenty five million records. As the night drew to an end, Paul Overstreet, the songwriter who’s written many of Travis’s hits, performed “No Place Like Home” like there was no tomorrow. The final song performed simply had to be “Forever And Ever, Amen” and the incomparable Garth Brooks carried the notes up to the next to the last word, placing the microphone in front of Randy letting Randy sing the final “Amen”. After that, as in a double encore, Randy led everyone in “Amazing Grace” and the country music all-stars concluded the no less than historic event with “Will The Circle Be Unbroken”. According to the promising new country traditionalists, some of them partaking in the performances of the night, The Circle has a good chance of remaining exactly that.
Shelley Ridge for Country Music News International Magazine
Foot note: Part of the proceeds went to the Randy Travis Foundation. For more information about the foundation and/or to donate, visit http://www.randytravisfoundation.org/
Photos by Rick Diamond / Getty Images for Randy Travis Foundation