Wynonna Judd has taken part in the recording of a song paying tribute to murdered U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle and his friend, Chris Littlefield. Judd joins the Pete Scobell Band on “Hearts I Leave Behind,” a track penned by Nashville songwriter Travis Meadows and Nick Sturms.
Earlier this week, a guilty verdict was returned in the murder trial of the man who shot and killed Littlefield and Kyle at a Texas shooting range in February 2013. Kyle’s military service and subsequently troubled civilian life were the subject of the Academy Award-nominated film, American Sniper.
In a post on the official Chris Kyle Facebook page following the verdict, his widow, Taya Kyle, explained how the song came about: “I have always loved music,” she wrote. “On the Patriot Tour last year the crew on the bus included our good friend and Chris’s teammate Pete Scobell who was the musician on tour with us. I asked about how he chooses which songs to sing and asked if I could listen to some. He played ‘The Hearts I Leave Behind.’ With tears rolling down my face, I looked at Pete and said, ‘You have to record this song.’ This song is Chris. It is me. It is all the people who carry Chris in the hearts he left behind.”
Songwriter Meadows, whose own turbulent life has included surviving cancer at 14, losing a brother to drowning and notching four stints in rehab, originally released his version of “Hearts I Leave Behind” on the 2013 EP Old Ghosts and Unfinished Business. His songs have also been recorded by Jake Owen, Dierks Bentley, Eric Church and Lynyrd Skynyrd, among several others.