Randy Travis' seminal Storms of Life album turns 32 this month. This weekend Travis was presented with the inaugural Cracker Barrel Country Legend Award during Warner Music Nashville night at Ascend Amphitheater during CMA Music Festival.
"There's a lot of things that Randy doesn't get real excited about, but when I mentioned this to him he was so happy," said the singer's wife Mary Travis. Randy Travis was seated beside his wife, smiling broadly and nodding as she spoke. The singer's speech is still impacted by the stroke that nearly claimed his life in 2013.
“I think it’s where he realizes that he did make a difference,” Mary Travis continued. “He has a song called, ‘I did my part.’ It really hits home with him. For them to pick him for the first Cracker Barrel Country Legends Award, they could have picked so many great artists, but they picked him. It speaks volumes for what he did for country music.”
To qualify to win the Cracker Barrel Country Legend Award, artists must be a top influencer in country with decades of experience.
In addition to the trophy that Randy Travis accepted on stage, a donation of $5,000 was made to the CMA Foundation in his name. Travis and singer Michael Ray accepted the check from Cracker Barrel on behalf of the CMA Foundation. Later, Ray paid tribute to Travis during his set, performing the singer's signature hit Forever and Ever, Amen.
However, the night was memorable for another reason. The occasion marked the first time Randy Travis had worn blue jeans and boots since his stroke. Lucchese made the singer special double-zip boots to support his legs and ankles so he could wear them without his braces. Mary Travis found his Wranglers in the back of the closet. She said it was an emotional moment to help him slide his feet into his boots. As she did, Ray was there to steady the singer’s wheel chair.
“The jeans had been in there for five years,” Mary Travis said. “I got to put them on him. I cried. The boots are so comfortable. Lucchese came out to the house and did three fittings. They said we just want Randy Travis back in boots. It's boots-on-the-ground country music.”
After Randy Travis accepted the trophy, he and Mary Travis did what they did the previous two nights – they went to Nissan Stadium to watch CMA Music Festival’s nightly concerts. Over the course of the festival, the couple caught sets from Carrie Underwood, Brothers Osborne, Jason Aldean, Brett Young and more. And that night, they were anxious to see Keith Urban.
“We have a good time coming back (to CMA Music Festival),” she said. “The first year we came back (after his stroke), it was really really tough,” she explained, tearing up. “It was tough to get through knowing that the year before he was on the stage, and the reality of may be never getting back on the stage and hoping and praying he would.”
Mary Travis pointed out that he did get back on stage, he's just singing a different song.
"He's still making that huge difference … just in a way that we would not have been able to make a difference before," she said.