Randy Travis hadn't stepped into a recording studio for seven years since his stroke in 2013 until he recently did so with his friend Josh Turner. Travis joins Turner on the latter's upcoming album for a cover of Travis' "Forever and Ever, Amen," the country icon singing the song's famous last note in his first new studio recording since his stroke.
"Randy and I have been friends for a long time," Turner recently told reporters, via Everything Nash. "It was an easy call to make, to have him come over and sing on this record. The only thing that I was really thinking about as far as Randy coming in and singing was the fact that I had been at different events and shows around Nashville, where some artist or songwriter would come out and sing 'Forever and Ever, Amen,' and Randy would come out and sing the last word, and the crowd would just go crazy. And so when it came time to make this record, I started thinking that I can sing just about any Randy Travis song there is, but I wanted to go with 'Forever and Ever, Amen' for a couple of reasons."
"One, it's his signature song," he continued. "And two, I wanted to kind of recreate what I had seen live on the record. So that’s what we did. I gave Randy the option of singing more than just the last word of the song, but he was like, 'Nope!' So Randy Travis literally got the last word. And then when I realized that this was the first time he had been in another studio since a stroke, that was when I realized that we had made history and it was a pretty emotional, bittersweet moment. It was good for him and everybody involved."
The new version of "Forever and Ever, Amen," will appear on Turner's album Country State of Mind, which will be released on Aug. 21. The project was dubbed by Turner as his "Mount Rushmore of country music" and also includes collaborations with John Anderson, Kris Kristofferson, Chris Janson, Allison Moorer, Runaway June and Maddie & Tae.
The album includes 12 songs in which Turner pays homage to a number of country music icons including five men who were influential in Turner's own musical journey: Travis, Anderson, Johnny Cash, Vern Gosdin and Hank Williams. "I’ve always said that any song you hear coming from my voice, you’re going to hear bits and pieces of those five guys," Turner said in a press release. "They taught me how to be Josh Turner."