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Randy Travis

Randy Travis sings his chart-topping song "Three Wooden Crosses," at the DoD-sponsored salute to Korean War veterans at the MCI Center in Washington, July 26, 2003.
Background information
Birth name Randy Bruce Traywick
Born May 4, 1959 (1959-05-04) (age 50)
Origin Marshville, North Carolina, U.S.
Genres Country, Gospel
Occupations Singer-songwriter
Instruments Vocals
Rhythm guitar
Years active 1978–present
Labels Paula
Warner Bros. Nashville
DreamWorks Nashville
Associated acts Alan Jackson
Paul Overstreet
Josh Turner
Dolly Parton
Carrie Underwood

Randy Travis (born May 4, 1959) is an American country singer. Active since 1985, he has recorded more than a dozen studio albums to date, in addition to charting more than thirty singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts, of which sixteen have reached Number One.

Considered a pivotal figure in the history of country music,[1] Travis broke through in the mid-1980s with the release of his album Storms of Life on Warner Bros. Records; the album sold more than three million copies. It also established him as a neotraditionalist country act, and was followed by a string of several more platinum and multi-platinum albums throughout his career. Starting in the mid-1990s, however, Travis saw decline in his chart success. He left Warner Bros. in 1997 for DreamWorks Records; there, he would eventually switch his focus to gospel music, a switch which — despite earning him only one more country hit in the Number One "Three Wooden Crosses" — earned him several Dove Awards.

Travis, in addition to singing, holds several acting credits, starting with his television special Wind in the Wire in 1992. Since then, he has appeared in several movie and television roles, occasionally as himself.


Early life

Travis was born Randy Bruce Traywick in Marshville, North Carolina,[1] the second of six children of Bobbie, a textile factory worker, and Harold Traywick, a horse breeder, turkey farmer, substitute school teacher and construction business owner.[2][3] While growing up, Travis was forced to take guitar lessons by his father and began performing at the age of eight with his brother, Ricky. Travis's feet grew faster than the rest of him. Travis began drinking at the age of 12, and by 14 was a regular marijuana user, who occasionally tried harder drugs. He often fought with his father and soon dropped out of high school.[4] He became a juvenile delinquent and was arrested for various offenses, including auto theft and burglary. Travis has since voiced regret for his past misdeeds.[5]

Harold Traywick entered Randy and Ricky in a talent contest at a nightclub called "Country City, USA" in Charlotte, North Carolina. Randy and Ricky shared their small time success with another local from Forest Hills High School, James "Spanky" Deese. Deese was one of the town's best football athletes at the time. Randy and Rickey encouraged Deese to pursue a life of music with them. In the meantime, Ricky, who also had brushes with the law, was sentenced to jail and Randy had to complete the contest alone, but he won anyway. The club's manager, Elizabeth "Lib" Hatcher, took an interest in Travis and gave him a job singing at the club.[3] Travis began focusing on music. He first recorded for Paula Records and released two unsuccessful singles — "She's My Woman" and "Dreamin'". Travis' legal troubles continued and he was due in court for probation violations. Hatcher pleaded with the judge and Travis was released in her custody with the warning that if the judge ever saw him again "he'd better bring his toothbrush, because he would be going to jail for a very long time."

Travis moved in with Hatcher. This put further strain on her already fragile marriage. She eventually left her husband and, in 1982, she and Travis moved to Nashville, Tennessee. Travis was soon turned down by every record label in town. His early demo tapes were criticized by Nashville record executives as being "too country." Hatcher took a job as manager of a nightclub, "The Nashville Palace" and hired Travis as a cook and singer.[3] It was during this time that an unlikely romance began to form between the two; Travis said "I think we discovered how much we needed each other."[6]


In 1982, Travis recorded an independent album Randy Ray Live and Lib Hatcher used it to secure a deal with Warner Bros. Records. However, the label said they had to keep their romance a secret so as not to turn away fans, and changed his stage name from Randy Ray to Randy Travis.[6] In 1985, Warner Brothers released the single "On the Other Hand" which peaked at #67 on the country charts. His next single, "1982", became a Top 10 hit followed by the re-release of "On the Other Hand" in 1986. The re-release became Travis' first number one hit.

His debut album, Storms of Life, went on to sell more than 4 million copies. In the late 1980s he had a string of hits, including "No Place Like Home" and "Diggin' Up Bones." A song from his second Warner Brothers album "Always and Forever" titled "Forever and Ever, Amen" arguably launched the neo-traditionalist country era, boosting the popularity of country music beyond its traditional fan base.[citation needed] For two years in a row, Travis won the Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance, for the albums Always & Forever in 1988, and for Old 8x10 in 1989. Off the success of his first two albums, Old 8x10 was certified platinum, and[3] Always and Forever was number one for 43 weeks.

Travis and Hatcher married in 1991. That year Travis took part in Voices That Care, a multi-artist project that featured other top names in music for a one-off single to raise money for the allied troops in the Gulf War. The project included fellow singers Garth Brooks, Kenny Rogers and Kathy Mattea. By 1992, Travis was no longer charting high, as artists such as Garth Brooks, Clint Black and others had begun to gain success. He took a break from music to concentrate on acting and landed roles in several Western-genre films. He returned to recording with the 1994 album This Is Me and the hit single "Whisper My Name".

In 1997, Travis parted ways with Warner Brothers. He moved to DreamWorks Nashville and recorded You and You Alone, which produced the top 10 hits "Out of My Bones" and "Spirit of a Boy, Wisdom of a Man." These were followed by the albums Inspirational Journey (2000), Rise and Shine (2002), and Worship & Faith (2003). The single "Three Wooden Crosses" from the Rise and Shine album reached No. 1 and won the CMA song of the year in 2003. That same year, Travis ranked #13 on CMT's 40 Greatest Men of Country Music. Travis continued to act in film and television; he appeared in several episodes and in the series finale of Touched by an Angel.[7] His album, Passing Through, was released in November 2004. It combined the country music of his earlier years, with the gospel influences from his more recent albums. After the release of Glory Train: Songs of Faith, Worship, and Praise in 2005 and the Christmas album Songs of the Season in 2007, Travis released his brand new single "Faith in You" as a free download from his official website. It heralded the July 2008 release of his latest album, Around the Bend. Along with the release of the free single, also underwent a complete overhaul, with opportunities for fans to create blogs and join an upcoming official fan club. Writer Anthony Maurizio has created the Digging Up Bones blog series, which presents an insight into the current events involving Randy Travis and draws the highest number of visitors to the website.[citation needed]

I Told You So: The Ultimate Hits of Randy Travis was released on March 17, 2009, as a 2 disc set of his greatest hits.

Point of Light controversy

In 1991, Lina Accurso, a freelance writer from New York, filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission about Travis's song "Point of Light". She charged that the single (released during a United States election year) qualified as political advertising for President George H.W. Bush, since Roger Ailes produced the video and Sig Rogich, a White House publicist at the time, co-wrote the song. The FEC rejected the complaint, ruling that the song and video "neither expressly advocate the election of, nor solicit contributions on behalf of, Mr. Bush."[8]

Personal life

A June 25, 1989, article in the New York Times stated that "there is no mistaking the affection in [Travis' & Hatchers'] relationship or the strength each derives from it."[9] Nevertheless, in 1991, a tabloid ran an article with claims that Travis was gay and that he was looking for a boyfriend. The incident infuriated him and motivated him and Elizabeth "Lib" Hatcher to come forward with their relationship; they were married twelve weeks later in a private ceremony.[6]

Travis is a born-again Christian and has released four Christian or Gospel records, which are, in chronological order, Inspirational Journey; Rise and Shine; Worship and Faith; and Glory Train.


Industry awards

Academy of Country Music Awards

American Music Awards

Country Music Association Awards

Grammy Awards


Travis in concert at the Chumash Casino Resort in Santa Ynez, California, in November, 2004.
  • The Wager (2007)—Michael Steele
  • The Gift: Life Unwrapped (2007)—Ellison
  • National Treasure: Book of Secrets (2007)—performs for the President of the United States
  • Lost: A Sheep Story (2006)—Porkchop
  • On the Farm: The Prodigal Pig (2006)—Porkchop
  • The Visitation (2006)—Kyle Sherman
  • Apple Jack (2003)—Narrator
  • The Long Ride Home (2003)—Jack Fowler/Jack Cole
  • The Trial of Old Drum (2002)—Charlie Burden Jr. - old
  • Texas Rangers (2001)—Frank Bones
  • The Cactus Kid (2000)—Pecos Jim
  • John John in the Sky (2000)—John Claiborne
  • The Million Dollar Kid (2000)—Businessman
  • King of The Hill (2000)—himself
  • The White River Kid (1999)—Sheriff Becker
  • Baby Geniuses (1999)—Control Room Technician
  • Hey Arnold (1998)—Appears as "Travis Randall"
  • T.N.T. (1998)—Jim
  • Black Dog (1998)—Earl
  • The Rainmaker (1997)—Billy Porter
  • The Shooter (1997)—Kyle
  • Annabelle's Wish (1997)—Adult Billy/Narrator
  • Steel Chariots (1997)—Rev. Wally Jones
  • Fire Down Below (1997)—Ken Adams
  • Boys Will Be Boys (1997)—Lloyd Clauswell
  • Sabrina, the Teenage Witch (TV series) (1996)
  • Edie & Pen (1996)—Pony Cobb
  • A Holiday to Remember (1995)—Clay Traynor
  • Dead Man's Revenge (1994)—U. S. Marshall
  • Frank & Jesse (1994)—Cole Younger
  • Texas (1994)—Capt. Sam Garner
  • At Risk (1994)—Ellison
  • The Outlaws: Legend of O.B. Taggart (1994)

Further reading

  • Goldsmith, Thomas. (1998). "Randy Travis". In The Encyclopedia of Country Music. Paul Kingsbury, Editor. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 544–5.


  1. ^ a b Mansfield, Brian; Stephen Thomas Erlewine. "Randy Travis biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 2008-04-25. 
  2. ^ Randy Travis Biography (1959-).
  3. ^ a b c d Miller, H.G. (October 1988), "Randy Travis: nice guy finishes first". Saturday Evening Post. 260 (7):60-91.
  4. ^ Gates, D. (1990-10-22), "The voice of country music". Newsweek. 116 (17):70.
  5. ^ "Blog Archive » Welcome to the Kids’ New Home Online". The Kids of Widney High. Retrieved 2009-03-18. 
  6. ^ a b c No byline (Fall 94 Special Issue) "The aloha cowboy". People. 42 (9):36.
  7. ^ Bianco, Robert (2003-04-25), "Critic's corner". USA Today.
  8. ^ Weisberg, Jacob (1991-10-14), "Miata culpa". New Republic. 205 (16):54.
  9. ^ Heron, Kim (1989-06-25). "Making Country Music Hot Again - The". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-03-18. 

External links

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