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Randy Travis Thanks Fans After Release of New AI-Assisted Single


Randy Travis is thanking his fans for helping to inspire him to record his first new single in a decade, “Where That Came From.” The 64-year-old singer whose voice was mostly taken from him following a 2013 stroke released the new ballad on Friday and appeared on CBS Sunday Morning this weekend in a package describing how his team used artificial intelligence to create the affecting track.

“Eleven years ago I never thought I would be able to have a hand in music production of any kind,” Travis said in a statement. “But by God’s grace and the support of family, friends, fellow artists and fans, I’m able to create the music I so dearly love. Working with [longtime producer] Kyle Lehning and Warner Music Nashville again has been so special and nostalgic, and I’m so excited to share my new song ‘Where That Came From’ with you today. Many thanks to my wonderful team and the best fans in the world for putting me back in the saddle again! I’ve enjoyed every moment of it.”

In the CBS interview, Travis’ longtime producer Lehning described his initial trepidation about using AI to fill-out the track, describing his fear that it sounded like a “parlor trick.” Travis suffered the stroke in 2013, after which doctors gave him a 2% chance of surviving following the discovery that in addition to paralysis the brain attack caused damage to the area of his brain controlling speech and language that had left it nearly beyond repair.

Lehning’s painstaking process began by pulling 42 classic Travis tracks from the his label’s vault, stripping away everything until just the vocal tracks remained and then adding some additional, new vocals from James Dupre, the singer who has been handling Travis’ vocals on tours by the country star’s band over the past few years.

Using an AI program that took Travis’ voice and overlaid it over Dupre’s singing, Lehning — who has worked with Travis for four decades — melded the two, telling CBS that having his longtime friend be a “vital part” of creating the song made a huge difference.

“Being a part of new Randy Travis music, I mean, that’s like… what?,’” Dupre told CBS.

“It’s Randy Travis. Randy’s on the other side of the microphone … It’s still his vocal,” Cris Lacy, co-chair/president of Warner Music Nashville said in the interview about the Grammy-winning legend who was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2016. “There’s no reason he shouldn’t be able to make music … And to deprive him of that, if he still wants to do that, that’s unconscionable to me.”

The song was originally recorded, but not released, by Dupre and written by Scotty Emerick and John Scott Sherrill.

“The motivation behind a musical recording is specific to each individual artist,” Lacy added. “The genesis of this particular track came from a visceral desire to restore what was taken away from someone we know and love – Randy Travis. It was inspired by his courage to continue as a vital contributor to the music community. In working with him to make new recordings, the byproduct is a gift that goes straight to our hearts. AI may have been a tool that helped us along, but it was a group of dedicated and passionate humans, including Randy himself, that brought this beautiful song to life.”

The piece included a scene from two months ago where Warner Music Nashville gathered a small group of fellow musicians in a studio to debut the new song, with Travis watching along with what was described as a “Cheshire Cat grin. The reaction that day was described as a mix of “joy and wonder,” plus some tears from Travis’ wife, Mary.

“You forget how much you missed it until you hear it again,” she said of her husband’s rich baritone. Fellow country star Carrie Underwood was also on hand and she seemed bewildered and entranced by the studio magic. “How… how, how?” she asked a smiling Travis as she attempted to unpack the spot-on computer-assisted vocals.

Cole Swindell was also on hand and he said listening to the song reminded him of why he became a country singer. “So y’all let me hear it, that means a lot,” Swindell said choking up, adding, “Damn, I’m glad to year you sing.” Veteran country star Clay Walker was seen sharing a laugh and a smile with his old pal as they took in the song.

The CBS package also revealed that the team is working on a second untitled “new” song, though so far that one has proven more elusive. “It’s a life inspiration,” Mary Travis said. “Speak kindly, love fully, live completely, and leave the rest to God.”

Watch the full CBS piece, and listen to “Where That Came From,” below.


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