When it’s your 80th birthday bash and you can boast a list of performers that includes Luke Bryan, Travis Tritt, Chris Stapleton and Kid Rock, it can only mean one thing: you must be Charlie Daniels. The highlight of the 2016 Volunteer Jam, however, was an unannounced guest — none other than legendary Randy Travis himself.
Daniels looked surprised and humbled as Travis made his way across the stage, making a rare appearance since suffering from a debilitating stroke in 2013. His recovery from the stroke, which inhibited his ability to walk or speak just three years ago, was seemingly better than ever last night.
Travis, joined by U.S. Army Lt. General Keith Huber, were there to surprise Daniels with the best kind of birthday present, the Rare Country Humanitarian Award in recognition of his contributions to veterans and their families.
“This has been an incredible year,” Daniels said as Travis stood to his left, smiling. “I am so honored to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame along with my brother Randy Travis. I was so surprised when he came walking out here. This is one of the strongest, most courageous men that I know.”
Daniels paused, pointing to the crowd, “And I can tell you, he’s getting better yet, and he’ll sing again!”
In a touching moment, a beaming Travis simply said, “Thank you very much.”
The Charlie Daniels’ Volunteer Jam began in 1974, and it combines great music with an even better cause to raise money to help military veterans through Daniels’ non-profit organization Journey Home Project. Journey Home has helps veterans returning home from tours abroad with their transition process. This year’s Volunteer Jam at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn., raised almost $250,000 for the cause.