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Randy Travis Artist celebrates 25 years of a 'genuine country' career

staff report • Sep 27, 2011 at 3:49 AM

Harold Traywick always wanted his son, Randy Bruce, the second of his six children, to become a country singer. The elder Traywick raised turkeys, bred horses and ran a construction business, but found the time and the money to buy his four sons Western outfits and guitars, and promoted them locally as the Traywick Brothers. By the time Randy Bruce was 10 years old, he and his brother Ricky had their own duo, playing throughout the South at fiddler’s conventions, private parties, VFW halls and anywhere and everywhere they could draw a crowd. Randy Bruce — better known as Randy Travis — continues to draw crowds, and this weekend, the six-time Grammy Award-winning artist along with special guest Pam Tillis will perform at Viking Hall Civic Center in Bristol. The concert, set for Saturday, Oct. 1, is part of the venue’s 30th anniversary celebration. Show time is 7:30 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Ticket prices range from $28 to $48. Even at a young age, Travis’ voice startled people with its resonance. Travis dropped out of school in the ninth grade, after which fast cars, drinking and drugs led to a series of scrapes with the law. At age 16, Travis entered a talent show hosted by Country City USA. After winning the competition hands down, he was invited by the club’s owner, Lib Hatcher, to play regularly at the famed night spot in Charlotte, N.C. It was a stint that lasted the better part of five years, with Travis first performing on weekends and eventually full-time. Hatcher took over the fledgling singer’s management and in the late 1970s, Travis recorded two singles for Paula Records, “Dreamin’” and “She’s My Woman,” with Joe Stampley producing. In 1981, Travis made the move to Nashville, commuting regularly to Charlotte to perform at Country City USA. He spent most of his time writing songs and getting acquainted with the Nashville scene. Eventually, Hatcher began management of another club, The Nashville Palace, where Travis worked cooking catfish and washing dishes as well as singing on stage. It wasn’t long before he had developed a following there and changed his stage name to Randy R a y. In 1983 while performing at the club, Travis recorded his first album independently and called it, “Randy Ray — Live at the Nashville Palace.” Turned down by nearly every record label in Nashville, often more than once, Travis was finally signed to Warner Brothers Records in 1985. Record company executives changed his name to Randy Travis, and his first recorded effort for his new label was “Prairie Rose,” on the soundtrack to the film “Rustler’s R h a p s o d y. ” It was followed by the release of the album, “Storms of Life” in 1986, and the rest is country music history. The first single, “On the Other Hand,” was a perfect slice of Travis’ authentic country talent. The next single, “1982,” followed, and with that hit, Travis established himself as a singer and performer in the grand tradition of George Jones, Lefty Frizell and Merle Haggard. The success of both singles led to wide-spread demand for live shows, and Travis set out on an extensive and ongoing tour, taking him across the United States and Canada before record-setting crowds. Soon it seemed every award in the music business had Travis’ name on it. A string of country chart-toppers ensued, and by the end of the decade, his record sales topped 13 million copies. Along with his full-time music career, Travis has become an accomplished actor. In addition to guest appearances on television shows such as “Matlock,” “Touched By An Angel” and “Texas,” his film credits include “The Rainmaker,” “Frank and Jessie,” “Black Dog,” “Fire Down Below,” “The White River Kid,” “The Visitation” and “The Wager.” For more information or to order tickets, call Viking Hall at (423) 764-0188.Courtesy of Viking Hall Civic Center

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