Dozens of country music's biggest stars assembled in Nashville for a night of music and memories dedicated to Randy Travis.
Thousands packed Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday night for the highly-anticipated tribute concert that lasted nearly four hours. The night kicked off with a standing ovation when Travis and his wife Mary walked on stage with huge smiles. The pair sat side-stage through the evening, rightfully giving them the best seat in the house. Nashville mayor Megan Barry then took the stage to declare Feb. 8 as Randy Travis Day, in celebration of his incredible career and efforts to provide awareness and raise money for stroke and other cardiovascular issues.
Travis himself nearly died from a devastating stroke in 2013, which left him paralyzed on the right side of his body. Although he still has difficulty walking and speaking, the fact that he survived the ordeal was described by many of the night's performers as a "miracle."
Emotions ran high during the series of performances from artists including Scotty McCreery, Tanya Tucker, Ricky Skaggs, Montgomery Gentry and William Michael Morgan. Some of the most impressive renditions came from Jamey Johnson ("Promises"), Josh Turner ("Three Wooden Crosses"), Alison Krauss ("Deeper Than The Holler") and Wynonna, who fondly recalled their time touring together before belting a powerhouse rendition of "On The Other Hand."
Along with Travis' hits, Ben Haggard performed Randy's favorite Merle song, "Are The Good Times Really Over," Kenny Rogers sang his tracks "Love Lifted Me" and "The Gambler," and Alabama recruited a children's choir for their inspiring 1993 single "Angels Among Us."
The night came to a close with an appearance from Garth Brooks, who personally thanked Travis for "saving" the country music format in the 1980s. "This is the hardest thing I think I've ever done," he admitted before performing a heartfelt rendition of "Forever and Ever, Amen." When it came time for the last lyric, Brooks ran over and held the microphone up to Travis, who happily sang "amen." But Travis was far from done with singing for the night.
With help from his wife, he made his way to the center-stage microphone and performed "Amazing Grace" in its entirety, alongside the night's other performers. Although Travis had sang a portion of the song during his Country Music Hall of Fame induction last year, this marked the first time he had performed a full song publicly since his stroke.
— Grand Ole Opry (@opry) February 9, 2017
Although it's unclear if Travis will ever completely regain his ability to perform a full show, the event proved that his already influential legacy will make an impact on country music for decades to come.
A portion of the proceeds raised from the event will go toward the non-profit Randy Travis Foundation, which provides support for stroke victims and funding for medical research.