Randy Travis Sings “Amazing Grace” in First Singing Performance Since Stroke

Photo: Micah McCartney, used by permission


Randy Travis made another big step on his road to recovery on Wednesday, February 3rd when he attended a remembrance and gathering for Pierre de Wet—a noted citizen and founder of the Kiepersol Estates in the Tyler, TX region. As first reported by Micah McCartney of the Bullard Banner News, Randy even helped lead the attendees in a rendition of “Amazing Grace,” marking Randy’s first official singing appearance since experiencing  a stroke and other health issues. On July 7th, 2013 Randy was admitted to the hospital for viral cardiomyopathy (a weakening of the heart muscle), and then suffered a stroke as a complication to his treatment, forcing doctors to have to perform emergency surgery to alleviate pressure on his brain.

Many news outlets have reported on Randy’s recent performance, but questions remained on just how capable Randy was in singing “Amazing Grace.” Fans of Travis have been hoping and praying for a full recovery for the singer since his health issues. Travis has made numerous public appearances in the last two years, including an appearance at the 50th Annual ACM Awards last April held at AT&T stadium in Irving, TX. Then in December, concert promoter Chuck Lipps reported after spending a day with Randy, “He can talk ”¦ say words, but no sentences,” calling into question just how much Randy could sing.

But singing is sometimes easier for individuals dealing with impediments than talking is, and singing could be a specific part of Randy’s therapy and recovery.

“It’s amazing to see stroke survivors who’ve lost the ability to speak suddenly produce accurate words when singing familiar songs,” says an article from the American Stroke Association. A speaking disorder resulting from a stroke, or “aphasia,” is caused when the left portion of the brain is damaged in the stroke. However singing is controlled by the right portion of the brain, meaning it can be less affected by a stroke than speaking. Through therapy and singing, stroke sufferers can sometimes learn how to speak again and communicate through the help of song.

“He came onto to the stage … he did need assistance coming across the stage. But he already knew what song they were going to sing,” says Micah McCartney of Bullard Banner News, who attended the ceremony. “He did sing. They had the microphone in front of him, and he knew the majority of the song, he knew who Pierre [de Wet] was because when they mentioned Pierre, [Randy] started crying. For having a stroke like he did, when he had the cardiomyopathy and the stroke right after that, I think it’s a sign that maybe he is getting better. I know he’s not 100%, I think he’s on the way to getting better, I think it’s a step forward, but I don’t think it’s the big massive step forward that some are saying it is.”

Nonetheless, it is a promising sign that someday Randy Travis may be able to sing in public again.

“He knew the first two verses, but then started skipping a few words on the third and fourth,” says Micah McCartney. “There are still going to be lingering effects from the stroke probably for the rest of his life, and I don’t know that he’s ever going to be the Randy Travis he was when he was recording all the #1’s. But for having a stroke in 2013, and where we’re at right now, that’s progress.”

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