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Hook & Barrel
A Lifestyle Magazine for Modern Outdoorsmen

Randy Travis Where That Came From

Love Or Hate AI, This Story Warms Music Lovers’ Hearts

It might seem like a miracle that Randy Travis has a new song out, and in a way it is. The classic country crooner lost his singing voice after a stroke 11 years ago, but through the scientific magic of artificial intelligence (AI), music fans are able to hear him once again.

Yep, that’s Travis’ unmistakable baritone, so deep and full, that you hear on the moving ballad “Where That Came From,” a new release from Warner Music.

Or is it?

Randy Travis Kyle Lehning
Randy Travis and Kyle Lehning share some laughs during the filming of the “Where That Came From” video.

Here’s Where “Where That Came From” Came From

Travis, 65, is widely considered to be one of the very best singers in the entire history of country music. Sadly, he’s endured a series of health problems that put him on the sidelines during what could have been the prime of his career. He suffered a stroke in 2013 as a result of congestive heart failure, damaging the part of the brain that controlled his speech—and his singing.

The new song sounds exactly like him, and that’s because engineers and his longtime producer, Kyle Lehning, painstakingly put it together. First, they had another singer, James DuPré, record the song and then used an AI-based computer program to create a new Travis vocal performance to lay down over DuPré’s. Basically, they used existing Travis recordings to clone his immortal voice. They reportedly spent considerable time carefully editing each vocal phrase to match, as closely as possible, the Hall of Famer’s unique singing style.

Check out the official video below:

The Pros & Cons Of AI

The upsides to this are pretty obvious. We get to hear him sing again, and so does he, more than a decade after being so cruelly silenced. The ramifications aren’t completely clear, of course, but many see it as a big, positive step in the continuing development of AI. Perhaps this controversial innovation can unlock the creative potential in others who are unable to express themselves otherwise.

But “on the other hand,” to borrow a phrase from one of Travis’ many landmark recordings, there’s something about all this that’s unsettling. It’s enjoyable to hear him sing again, but only if you can get past the idea that it’s not real. Yes, it sounds like Travis, but what we’re hearing is not actually him singing from his heart, no matter how impressive and groundbreaking the technology.

The Future Is Forever & Ever

More questions emerge with the release of “Where That Came From.” One of them, certainly, is will there be more from where this came from? A cynic would say, “You bet,” if it ends up being a moneymaker for the record company. And in that case, you have to wonder what other results from this technological advancement we’ll be hearing down the road. New releases from Elvis Presley, or Frank Sinatra? Perhaps one of them, or both, will record a duet with Patsy Cline.

And years from now, will anyone know (or care) whether these recordings were actually sung by these people, or were cleverly crafted through software?

Randy Travis with family and friends

One thing is for sure: there are legions of Randy Travis fans who are being profoundly moved emotionally to hear him sing again, no matter how it came to be. In that sense, the release of this new song seems to be a tremendous step forward for the public acceptance of AI.

Editor’s Note: Bobby Bones, one of Hook & Barrel’s favorite country personalities, recently interviewed Randy Travis, his wife Mary Davis, and lifelong producer Kyle Lehning.

Travis Is A “Gold Standard” in Classic Country Circles

randy travis

He was called a “neotraditionalist” when he emerged in the early 1980s, and many of today’s country singers look up to him as a gold standard. Randy Travis’ impossibly resonant voice, sweet and thick as molasses, draws you in and commands you to listen, even if you’re not a country music fan.

As a singer, Travis was among the all-time greats, and he had the songs to match. In his heyday, he put 50 singles on the country charts, with 16 of them reaching number one.

It’s possible that his new release, “Where That Came From,” will eventually rank high alongside those earlier recordings. If it does, it will be in amazing company.

What’s your favorite? Maybe it’s one of these on this list, and chances are you’re humming along just reading the titles:

Travis broke out in 1985 with four hit singles, “On the Other Hand,” “Diggin’ Up Bones,” “No Place Like Home” and “1982.” A follow-up album the next year yielded four more hits. They were “Forever and Ever, Amen,” “I Won’t Need You Anymore (Always and Forever),” “I Told You So” and “Too Gone Too Long.”

Three more number-ones followed in 1988. They were “Deeper Than the Holler,” “Honky Tonk Moon” and “Is it Still Over?” A year later, his fifth album scored major hits with “It’s Just a Matter of Time,” “Hard Rock Bottom of Your Heart” and “He Walked on Water.”

For many fans, their favorite song by Randy Travis is a classic that came along many years later, in 2002. The faith-based “Three Wooden Crosses” won top awards in country music and gospel as well.

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