The 50th Academy of Country Music Awards show has come and gone, setting a Guinness Book of World Records for the most attended live awards show. Held on April 19 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, with some 70,252 folks there, it’s safe to say this was a show that will down in history.
With highlights ranging from George Strait and Reba McEntire among those deservedly receiving “Milestone Awards” to performances by Brooks and Dunn and Garth Brooks, the entertainment value almost eclipsed the terrible sound and acoustics and a Blake Shelton bum’s rush of Luke Bryan’s ACM Entertainer of the Year acceptance speech because the show was running long.
But one of the bright points for me was something totally unexpected. When Lee Brice took the stage to perform he sang a few lines from Randy Travis’ 1987 smash “Forever and Ever, Amen” then introduced him to the crowd. The singer, who is recovering from a stroke, rose to his feet and waved to the crowd.
“I was nervous to be able to sing a Randy Travis song and then turn around and see him,” Brice said backstage. “It almost choked me up a little bit to be there, because I grew up listening to him. When I write songs, I hold up a bar to where this song needs to be before it’s done, and a lot of that is partly because of [Travis’] songs, so I was honored to do that tonight.”
The huge crowd was elated. Randy, who right now is unable to speak, expressed his gratitude in a letter to his fans on his website: “The power of music remains a source of inspiration and healing for me. Writing songs was always a passion of mine, and I still have a lot to share with you. It is my prayer that, with continued healing, one day soon, I will be back on that stage exchanging music with my fans … my friends, who with God’s amazing grace, have brought me this far.”
As if Randy’s appearance at the ACM’s wasn’t surprise enough, the next morning it came to light that Randy married his long time fiancee, Mary Davis, last month in a quiet ceremony. His wife says Randy continues to write songs and can play his guitar. On his website, he wrote, “As I work through music/speech/occupational/physical therapy, it is my hope that my songs of yesterday continue to touch your life in some way.”
Forever and ever, amen.
Nancy Wilson is a morning radio personality for K99.1-FM.