Randy Travis Teams Up With AI in First Song Since Losing Voice

Country singer hasn't released a new tune since 2013, until now with 'Where That Came From'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 6, 2024 12:11 PM CDT

Randy Travis' 2013 stroke kept him out of the recording studio for a decade, but the 65-year-old country star now has a new song out, thanks to a little help from artificial intelligence. Travis has released "Where That Came From," his first tune since the stroke that left him not able to talk or sing like he used to due to aphasia, per the AP, which notes the singer also had to relearn how to walk, spell, and read.

  • Idea: Cris Lacy, co-president of Warner Music Nashville, says she was the one who contacted Travis and his wife, Mary, to suggest bringing the performer back into the music fold using robotic assistance. "We were all over that, so we were so excited," Mary Travis says. "All I ever wanted since the day of [the] stroke was to hear that voice again."

  • Process: Song producers trained an AI model using, among other things, 42 samples from Travis songs released from 1985 through 2013. Then, with Travis and his longtime producer Kyle Lehning overseeing the project, another country singer, James Dupre, put down the vocal track, which was then run through the AI model.
  • Tweaks: Lehning says the first set of vocals was about 75% on target, in terms of it sounding like Travis, but "certain aspects of it ... were not authentic to Randy's performance," meaning the team had to make some adjustments. But "it was stunning, to me, how good it was sort of right off the bat," Lehning notes.
  • A critic's response: Writing for the Verge, Wes Davis calls the song "every bit the kind of folksy, sentimental tune I came to love as a kid when Travis was at the height of his fame." He adds, "I wouldn't say it's a great Randy Travis song, but it's certainly not the worst—I'd even say I like it."
  • Randy's reaction: "It was beautiful because at first, he was surprised, and then he was very pensive, and he was listening and studying," Mary Travis tells the AP. "And then he put his head down and his eyes were a little watery. I think he went through every emotion there was, in those three minutes of just hearing his voice again." He also shared some thoughts and a video online.
  • More songs? Mary Travis says it's a possibility: "We'll see where this goes. This is such a foreign territory."
(More Randy Travis stories.)

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