Country superstar Randy Travis is celebrating the 25th anniversary of his award-studded career with a stellar cast of collaborators.
Joining him on his Anniversary Celebration CD are such members of the Country Music Hall of Fame as Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, George Jones and Ray Price. Current Nashville hit makers Zac Brown Band, Carrie Underwood, Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw, Josh Turner and Brad Paisley are also singing with him on the collection. Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame member Don Henley is on board, as are such up-and-comers as country’s James Otto and Jamey Johnson, pop’s Kristin Chenoweth and Irish tenor Eamonn McCrystal.
Randy’s fellow country superstar Alan Jackson has written several songs with him, so his presence is a natural. Revered vocal stylists such as Shelby Lynne, John Anderson, Gene Watson and Joe Stampley participate, as do Randy’s fellow Grand Ole Opry cast members Lorrie Morgan and Connie Smith.
The event that inspired this gathering of greats is singular and significant. The 1986 release of the Randy Travis LP Storms of Life was a watershed moment in American music history. The album, which has sold nearly four million copies, was a cornerstone of the “new traditionalist” movement in Nashville. Jackson, Paisley, Chesney, McGraw, Turner and Underwood were all inspired by it.
“It doesn’t seem possible that it has been 25 years,” Randy comments wistfully. “Time flies.”
“Our conversation about this [anniversary] started a little over a year ago. It was between me and [Warner Music Nashville VP of A&R] Cris Lacy, [producer] Kyle Lehning and [manager] Lib Travis. We all talked about who we would like to have involved in the record. And we were all pretty much on the same page.
“Most of the people we called just said, ‘Yes. I’d be happy to. What do you want me to do?’ We told them we’d like to re-record some of the old stuff with guests and also find some new material. We said, ‘Y’all just do what you want to do.’ And it worked out just fine.
“It was all fun, to be honest with you. It’s one thing to listen to songs for yourself, but then when you’re listening and imagining this other voice singing with you, that’s another addition to the mix. But I approached this the way I always have. Years ago when we started working together, Kyle said, ‘At the end of the day, it’s you singing these songs. So if you don’t love them, don’t do them.’ I can honestly say that I have always followed that advice.”
It shows in the extraordinary repertoire that he brought to the Anniversary Celebration sessions. For his Josh Turner duet, Randy chose the rollicking, delightfully light hearted, rapid-fire tongue-tripper “T.I.M.E.” Kristin Chenoweth joins him on the lovely ballad “Love Looks Good on You.” Randy found the forceful mid-tempo rocker “Can’t Hurt a Man” for his collaboration with Tim McGraw. “Someone You Never Knew” is a ballad of regret with Eamonn McCrystal.
The lively, spirited “Everything and All” has a live-while-you-can message that both Randy and duet partner Brad Paisley sing with gusto. Randy readily approved of the funky, groove-soaked “Too Much,” which James Otto brought to him. The sublimely wistful “Didn’t We Shine” is perfect for Randy with his all-star grouping of George Jones, Lorrie Morgan, Ray Price, Connie Smith, Joe Stampley and Gene Watson.