After 25 years in the business, Randy Travis is an American music legend. But only over the past decade has his signature bass gone beyond his country music roots and into gospel territory. The winner of three Grammys and seven Doves with his gospel recordings alone, Travis recently spoke with Christian Music Today about his new best-of album, Three Wooden Crosses: the Inspirational Hits (Word), about his conversion experience, the difference between church and country audiences, and why he's been bitten by the acting bug (he blames Andy Griffith!).
The title track of your new album is a song that presents a story of redemption—of once lost, now found. Is this story symbolic of your own conversion?
Randy Travis: I came from a background that was heavy with drugs and alcohol and arrests. I've heard people speak about how a vision or something hit them, like a light turned on, right then and there. For me, I was into my early twenties, and I went to bed one night and just started reading the Bible. That's how the slow process of coming to understand that I needed to know more about the Word of God began, and then coming to the point of accepting Christ and water baptism.
Did faith in God dissolve the drugs and drinking immediately, or was it a process?
Travis: Because of my background, I really had no fear of anything or anybody. But I came to a point in my mid-twenties where I thought, The only thing I'm really afraid of is that if I died now, I know I would go straight to hell. I would hear, "Depart from me worker of iniquity, I never knew you," not "Well done, good and faithful servant."
That was a sobering thought. So the drugs and alcohol, I stopped that cold turkey. The drinking, running totally wild, running around ...1