GOSPEL MUSIC - A SECOND CAREER
When Randy Travis recorded his first gospel album, Inspirational Journey, in 2000, he had no idea that the project would be little more than a diversion from his well-established mainstream country path.
Five years later, his diversion has become a second career. Two subsequent gospel albums, Rise And Shine and Worship & Faith, have brought him Grammy awards, and now Travis finds yet another way to explore his spiritual side with Glory Train. Recorded in Santa Fe, the all-acoustic project mines a mixture of traditional hymns, new reverent works and a spiritual gospel vein that opened up a wealth of unexplored territory. Glory Train finds Travis backed not only by frequent session vocalist Wes Hightower, but also by some well-respected gospel acts, including the Crabb Family, the Hagees and the Blind Boys of Alabama.
Randy admits that he does not think he could have done a project like Glory Train back in his mid-20's.
"I would have been singing the words without any meaning," says Travis. He admits, "I still had some spiritual growing to do. In my case, change came very, very slow." Gospel music was supposed to be a short-term side venture for Randy Travis, but Glory Train exists because the message has value—to listeners, and to Randy.
A MUSIC MINISTRY
Randy is drawn to gospel music because he sees the impact his music is making. Rather than simply reflecting events that happened in others’ lives, gospel music has the power to change. Travis sees it in the people who say his performances have helped heal broken relationships or inspired people to battle their addictions. And he remembers one father who approached him after a concert to tell Travis about a family drama in which his son was about to marry a woman who was pregnant with a child conceived during a rape by someone else. The man had told his son that he would not accept the child as a member of his family, but after hearing Randy’s song, “Raise Him Up,” he relented, telling Travis, “I’ll treat that child as my grandchild, and all because of hearing that song.”
Randy was born in rural North Carolina in 1959. “I came out of a childhood that had no religion,” says Randy. “I didn’t know anything about the Word of God, and I didn’t listen to gospel music," admits Randy. He went to church just a little bit as a kid, but as they would say in the South, it didn’t take. He can remember some gospel music that he sang along with in church in those days. Then when his grandmother was alive—his dad’s mom—every time she was around, she’d always ask Randy and his brother, Ricky, to do ‘Peace in the Valley.’ There were a couple others, but mainly that one, so his knowledge of gospel music was extremely small.
Randy learned to play guitar at age 8 and was actively performing publicly by age 9. By the time Randy was 10 he and his brother, Ricky, were a duo, playing at fiddler's conventions, etc. By 13 he was using drugs daily and drinking alcohol most days. He dropped out of school in the 9th grade and by age 20 had totaled 4 cars, several motorcycles and a horse and buggy. Randy was in and out of jail for fighting, stealing cars and breaking and entering.
By age 17, after winning a local talent contest, he became a regular act at the Charlotte, N.C. honky-tonk, County City USA. At age 22, he moved to Nashville and became a regular act at The Nashville Palace nightclub, where he also worked as a cook. After four more years of being turned-down by every label in Nashville, Randy was finally signed to Warner Bros. Records in 1985 and released his first major label album, Storms of Life in 1986. Today Randy has become one of the most successful recording and touring artists in the history of country music.
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