Sunday evening (10-16) saw the annual Medallion Ceremony at the Country Music Hall of Fame inducting 2016’s newest members into the institution. Country music dignitaries such as Dolly Parton, Brenda Lee, Kris Kristofferson, Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, and dozens of other Hall of Famers were in attendance to induct Charlie Daniels as the Veterans Era inductee, Fred Foster as the non-performer inductee, and Randy Travis as the Modern Era inductee.
Despite still attempting to gain the full ability to speak and walk after his devastating health setbacks of 2013, Randy Travis reportedly stunned the crowd when he sang a rendition of “Amazing Grace” for the assembled country music dignitaries. According to reports, hearing Travis sing “Amazing Grace” brought many in the Hall of Fame crowd to tears, and many in the crowd joined Randy in singing the song.
This is not the first time Travis has sung “Amazing Grace” since his health issues. He also sung the hymnal in February at a funeral for a close friend.
“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.
Before there was Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, Clint Black, Brooks & Dunn, and the other big commercial powerhouses of country music in the late 80’s and early 90’s, there was Randy Travis setting the table for them all, revitalizing the neotraditional sound in country music, opening the door for a new era where country music would reach its commercial pinnacle, and playing a pivotal role in the history of the genre.
“Randy Travis cleared the whole way for the 80’s for guys like me and the class of ’89 to come through,” Garth Brooks said upon his own induction to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2012. Garth believed Randy should have been inducted before him, and Garth was the one to formally induct Randy on Sunday night.