The Role of Artificial Intelligence in Restoring Randy Travis’s Singing Voice

The Role of Artificial Intelligence in Restoring Randy Travis's Singing Voice
Photo: Erika Goldring/Getty Images

11 years after Randy Travis suffered a nearly fatal stroke, the beloved country icon is making music again, all thanks to AI.

On Friday, May 3, Randy Travis unveiled his first studio recording in over a decade. Travis’s stroke left him grappling with challenges like walking, spelling, reading, and speaking. However, over the past 11 years, he’s been diligently relearning these skills.

Though Travis can now walk with some assistance, regaining full vocal communication remains elusive. Doctors initially painted a grim picture, doubting Travis’s chances of survival following his debilitating stroke. Yet, not only did he defy the odds by pulling through, but he also stunned the world by singing “Amazing Grace” at his own Country Music Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 2016.

Since then, Travis hasn’t made many public singing appearances. Therefore, fans were pleasantly surprised to learn about his latest release—a newly recorded song titled “Where That Came From,” marking his first musical endeavor since the stroke in 2013.

Building anticipation for the song’s release, Travis shared the reactions of fellow artists who had the privilege of hearing it before its debut. From Cody Johnson and Josh Turner to Clay Walker and Chase Matthew, Randy’s friends were deeply moved by his return to music. Their responses ranged from sheer awe to tears as they bore witness to Randy Travis’s voice coming back to life.

Despite Randy Travis’s speech challenges, how did he manage to record a new song? The answer: Artificial intelligence

In an interview scheduled to air on Sunday, May 5, Cris Lacy, co-chair and president of Warner Music Nashville, shared with “CBS News Sunday Morning” correspondent Lee Cowan that the record label had begun exploring the potential of incorporating AI into their operations.

Amidst the concerns often associated with AI, Lacy and her team contemplated how this technology could be harnessed to support their artists. Their initial focus? Restoring Randy Travis’s voice.

Randy’s longtime producer, Kyle Lehning, took charge of assembling a new track using Travis’s vocals from previous recordings.

According to CBS, a specially designed AI program was used to blend Travis’s voice with the new recording, with assistance from another singer.

Throughout the process, the “Forever and Ever, Amen” singer was actively involved, ensuring that the AI-generated voice retained the genuine essence of Randy Travis.

“For us, it’s not just about the sound; it’s about capturing the emotion,” remarked Lehning.

Lacy echoed this sentiment, emphasizing that despite the technological intervention, it’s still Randy Travis’s voice that shines through the music. She stressed the importance of enabling Travis to continue making music if he desires, describing any impediment to that as morally unjust.

In 2013, Randy Travis Was Hospitalized With Viral Cardiomyopathy, A Heart Infection

During his hospitalization, Randy suffered a severe stroke and underwent urgent surgery to alleviate pressure on his brain. At the time, his spokesperson attributed the stroke to a “complication of his congestive heart failure.”

With less than a 1% chance of survival, Randy’s wife, Mary Davis, refused to give up on him, despite being urged to consider removing him from life support.

Recalling a poignant moment from 2019, Mary shared, “Even in his semi-coma state, he squeezed my hand… And he laid there, and I just saw this tear fall. And it was, you know, one, two at a time. And I just went back to the doctors and I said, ‘We’re fighting this.’”

Their perseverance paid off, and we’re grateful for it! The return of Randy Travis’s voice is as stirring as one might imagine. Experience the emotion of Randy Travis’s new single, “Where That Came From,” in the video below.

>>READ ALSO: Here Are Some Randy Travis’ Facts You Probably Didn’t Know

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