Reclaiming His Voice: The Remarkable Journey of Randy Travis and AI-Generated Music

As a massive country music fan, I think there’s a piece of the conversation surrounding Randy Travis’s new AI. Generated song that we are just entirely forgetting. For those who don’t know, country legend Randy Travis suffered a massive stroke back in 2013 that he had about a 2% chance of surviving. That’s just surviving, not any of the afterstroke effects that he may have suffered beyond now having an amount of paralysis. The part of Randy Travis is brain that controls speech and language was also very much so affected. Now Randy Travis can speak, but it is now a lot slower, a lot more labored, a lot more forced. He cannot speak as much as he wants to. And what he does speak is in very simple sentences. Now, on occasion, he will sing. It is not the same voice that we are used to. It’s still very sweet and there’s no power behind it. On occasion, he will get on stage with other performers when they’re singing his song forever and ever, amen. And Randy will sing that last final amen at his introduction to the Country Music Hall of Fame. I think that’s what it was he got. And in his acceptance, he’s saying amazing Grace again. He has it all up here. He just can’t get it out. So with this new song that was put out, which is amazing, mind you, what does music production team actually did is they went back and pulled up like 40 something songs of his that they feel are some of his strongest vocally. And they took out all of the layers of the music until it was just his voice. And they split everything up, sound by sound, syllable by syllable, and they use that to string together a new song. But you see, not every one of those individual sounds were in the same way that they would have had Randy Travis sing it if he were to be recording that song now. So they took another artist and they had him sing that song. And he has a very similar voice to Randy Travis. And they were able to kind of put everything together. So it absolutely sounds like Randy Travis singing with support. And honestly, Randy Travis is a living legend when it comes to country music and he is also disabled. I think he should be allowed that support, especially considering that song sounds like him singing. They’re not trying to create a new voice and make something that was never there before. And it wasn’t like someone just made a Randy Travis song. This is not, you know, someone going into an AI generator online and typing in, you know, make Randy Travis sing. social. It was nothing like that. Randy Travis was in the studio and he was approving of just about every decision that was made. He was involved in the song and making sure that the song sounded the way that he would have wanted it to sound if he could physically sing again or at least sing to the caliber that he was used to being able to sing.

You know, when we look at people who aren’t famous, people who are, you know, nonverbal for a multitude of reasons. Sometimes they use touch screens to speak for them. Sometimes they use those screens that, you know, track eye movement and a voice comes out.

Thanks, Steven Hawking, for instance, we all know that is not what Steven Hawking sounded like before he lost his ability to speak. In fact, we considered his AI voice his voice, even if we knew it wasn’t do. We knew that it was computer generated. That was his voice. We accepted that Stephen Hawking’s very obvious computer generated voice enabled him to keep doing his life’s work and to be able to communicate with others. And there’s even AI generators that can take a child’s voice from before they lost their ability to speak, and they can try to manipulate it to make it sound more mature so that parents and other families and friends and loved ones can hear what a disabled child may have sounded like as they’ve gotten older. And then that voice has become the child speaking machine, either through, you know, touch screen or eye tracking.

We accept that as an option for people who want to use those voices and their communication devices to make things seem a little more personal and not so robotic. Very obviously computerized. And those generated voices are just based off of, you know, the best science we have and very educated guesses. Why are we not allowing that for someone who we very much so, very obviously know what he sounds like? Someone who is able to very intelligently be present and help make decisions and give approval for this new song that was being put out with his voice.

This technology is allowing a very disabled Randy Travis to still continue to do what he loves the most, make music. He is still making the decisions in the production process. He is still helping decide and be an active part in how he wants his voice to sound. It is giving him back both a big part of his livelihood and most importantly, who he is as a human being. It is allowing him to do the things that he loves. It looks a little different, but he is still doing something that he loves. And I think that’s a beautiful thing. I truly think that it’s a beautiful thing that his team is speaking out so openly about this to bring visibility to those who are disabled and then any sort of the accessibility options that they may need or that they may come across.

Now, do I think that we should be using artificial intelligence and computer programs to create singers and performers that don’t really exist in real life? No. Do I believe that we should be using this technology to create new music from people who have passed on? No. Hell, I don’t even think that we should be using this technology to create new music from someone who is still living but is not actively involved in the production of said music, but to use this as an opportunity to give the voice back to someone who used to live off of their voice and then lost it in a stroke that they should not have suffered, all while this person is still involved in the production and the decision making and how they want their own voice to sound.

I think it’s amazing. This is an amazing step forward in the realm of accessibility for disabled performers. And I personally am extremely proud of Randy Travis and his entire production team because they made one hell of a song. I have been listening to it nonstop. It sounds exactly like him, not just his voice, but in the lyrics and how the lyrics are delivered, the production quality, just his overall sound. This is a Randy Travis song, 110% through and through.