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Randy Travis Bibliography: (click on each album cover to view tracks and Randy Travis lyrics)
Randy Travis Biography
When Randy Travis recorded his first gospel album, Inspirational Journey, in 2000, he had no idea that the project would be little more than a diversion from his well-established mainstream country path.
"I never plan that far ahead," he laughs.
Five years later, his diversion has become a second career. Two subsequent gospel albums, Rise And Shine and Worship & Faith, have brought him Grammy awards, and now Travis finds yet another way to explore his spiritual side with Glory Train. Recorded in Santa Fe, the all-acoustic project mines a mixture of traditional hymns, new reverent works and a spiritual gospel vein that opened up a wealth of unexplored territory.
"There are standards here that everybody would recognize, and then there are old songs that people are gonna say, 'What? Where did that come from?'" Travis grins. "It's an unusual record, that's for sure."
But it's also a sincere one. "Precious Memories" is imbued with an authentic serenity, "Coming Back To The Heart" conveys a humble fragility, and "Here I Am To Worship" applies a touching sensitivity to praise.
In the process, Travis sounds as warm and grainy as he's ever sounded on record. Particularly illustrative of the point is "Were You There?," as Travis' halting low notes resemble the reedy pull of a bow across the string of an upright fiddle. It exemplifies the artistic depth that has guided his performances for 20 years of recorded music.
"He's such a naturally gifted guy," Kyle Lehning, his longtime producer, notes. "He has this internal compass that knows, whatever it is we're doing, which direction he should be pointed in. I don't usually have to say a whole heck of a lot when it comes to his approach."
Not that Travis can explain it. His assimilation of the instruments around him is as innate as it is genuine.
"I have been on a stage doing a live show and heard something really weird, as far as my mix goes, and it will make me form words different in my mouth," he says. "I don't know how else to say it. I've listened back to playbacks when I recorded things live, and something sounded so weird, it made me even pronounce the word in a different way."
Different was the point of Glory Train. Having approached his first two gospel albums more like country albums with gospel messages, he took a more traditional Christian stance with Worship & Faith. He was interested in taking a new direction with the same praise sensibility, but it took some time before Travis and Lehning were able to establish the musical core of Glory Train.
"I literally was in the shower and I was thinking about the Fisk Jubilee Singers and about looking into a whole different culture when it came to gospel music," Lehning remembers. "I got right out of the shower and went to Tower and started digging through the collection of records over there and ran into a four-CD box set of Sister Rosetta Tharpe.
"I knew about her music and the kind of raw quality of it. Her stuff is real simple, but very soulful, and Randy's such a pure, soulful country singer that a connection seemed to make some sense to me. I bought the box set and sent it to Randy and said, 'Dig around in here.'"
That led to such songs as "This Train," "Up Above My Head," "Precious Memories" and "Down By The Riverside." Combining Travis' expressive bass-baritone with a small cadre of acoustic players and those spiritual nuggets, the sessions brought a new dimension to the songs, casting some of them in country, Southern gospel and even western swing textures. The result is a powerful mix of distinct sounds that represent the American heartland.