Randy Travis While growing up, Travis was forced to take guitar lessons by his father, Harold Traywick, and Travis began performing at the age of eight with his brother, Ricky. Travis often fought with his father and soon dropped out of high school. He became a juvenile delinquent and was arrested for various offenses including auto theft and burglary.
Harold Traywick entered Randy and Ricky in a talent contest at a nightclub called "Country City, USA" in Charlotte, North Carolina. Ricky, who also had brushes with the law, was sentenced to jail and Randy had to complete the contest solo, but won anyway. The club's manager, Elizabeth Hatcher, took an interest in Travis and gave him a job singing at the club. Travis began focusing on music. He first recorded for Paula Records and released an unsuccessful single, "She's My Woman."
Travis' legal troubles continued and he was due in court for probation violations. Hatcher pleaded with the judge and Travis was released in her custody with the warning that if the judge ever saw him again "he'd better bring his toothbrush, because he would be going to jail for a very long time."
Travis moved in with Hatcher. This put further strain on her already fragile marriage. She eventually left her husband and, in 1982, she and Travis moved to Nashville, Tennessee without much more than a dream. Travis was soon turned down by every record label in town. His early demo tapes were criticized by Nashville record executives as being "too country." Hatcher took a job as manager of a nightclub, "The Nashville Palace," and hired Travis as a cook and singer.
In 1982, Travis recorded an independent album Randy Ray Live and Lib Hatcher used it to secure a deal with Warner Bros. records. In 1985, Warner Bros. released Travis' single. "On the Other Hand." which topped out at 67 on the country charts. His next single, "1982," became a Top 10 hit followed by the re-release of "On the Other Hand" in 1986. The re-release became Travis' first number one hit.
His debut album, Storms of Life, went on to sell more than 4 million copies. In the late 1980s, he had a string of hits including "No Place Like Home" and "Diggin' Up Bones." Another song from that album, "Forever and Ever, Amen" arguably launched the new country era, boosting the popularity of country music beyond its traditional fan base. Two years in a row, he won the Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance, for the album Always And Forever in 1988, and for Old 8x10 in 1989. Always and Forever was No. 1 for 43 weeks.
Travis and Hatcher married in 1991. That year Travis took part in Voices That Care, a multi-artist project that featured other top names in music for a one-off single to raise money for the allied troops in the Gulf War. The project included fellow country singers Garth Brooks, Kenny Rogers and Kathy Mattea. By 1992, Travis was no longer charting high, as Brooks, Clint Black, and others had taken over Nashville. He took a break from music to concentrate on acting and landed roles in several Western genre films. He returned to recording with 1994's This Is Me and the hit single "Whisper My Name."
In 1997, Travis parted ways with Warner Brothers. He moved to DreamWorks Nashville and recorded You and You Alone which produced the top 10 hits "Out of My Bones" and "Spirit of a Boy, Wisdom of a Man." His latest albums are 2000's Inspirational Journey, 2002's Rise and Shine and 2003's Worship and Faith. The single "Three Wooden Crosses" from the Rise and Shine album reached No. 1 and won the CMA song of the year in 2003. Travis continues to act in film and television. His most recent album, Passing Through, was released in November of 2004. It combines the country music of his earlier years with a little gospel mixed in from more recent albums.