Less than a year before he suffered a stroke while hospitalized for a heart infection in July 2013, Randy Travis looked fit and healthy onstage for an October 24th taping of CMT’s Crossroads. Paired with fellow North Carolinians the Avett Brothers, the country traditionalist and Americana darlings performed some of their best-known recordings.
Among the highlights were Avett songs like “I and Love and You,” “Murder in the City” and “January Wedding”; while Travis offered such hits as “Three Wooden Crosses,” “Diggin’ Up Bones” and “Deeper Than the Holler.”
The standout, however, was Travis’s timeless love note “Forever and Ever, Amen.” Scott and Seth Avett each handled a verse, and all four — including Avett bassist Bob Crawford — harmonized on the chorus. But Travis owned the song with just one word. As he sang the “forever and ever, amen” refrain, the six-time Grammy winner stretched the final “amen” to a nearly absurd length. A friend of late country legend George Jones, Travis’s run brought to mind the Possum’s vocals tics and high-low range. All the Avetts could do was watch and smile.
Since his medical issues in summer of 2013, Travis has been steadily recovering. He recently attended an alcohol and drug abuse benefit in his adopted home state of Texas and is reportedly working with therapists to regain his speech. Earlier this year, Travis released Influence Vol. 2: The Man I Am, a collection of songs that shaped him as an artist, recorded prior to his stroke.