Country Icon Randy Travis Surprises At Oliver Anthony’s Sold-Out Nashville Concert

Anthony admitted he “can’t believe this is real life” after Travis made a surprise appearance at this concert.


Madeleine O’Connell

| Posted on

February 22, 2024

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Randy Travis, Oliver Anthony; Photo Courtesy Randy Travis

Oliver Anthony launched his first of two back-to-back sold-out shows at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium with a bang as he received an unexpected visit from Randy Travis

The country music legend joined the up-and-comer on stage amid his set, after he had just wrapped up his delivery of the historic chart-topping hit, “Rich Men North of Richmond.”

The Crowd Goes Wild

In the footage caught by a fan, the crowd can be seen jumping to their feet and hooting and hollering as soon as they realize the legend was making his way to the stage in a wheelchair. Anthony, whose real name is Christopher Anthony Lunsford, made his way over to greet his surprise guest before stepping away to let him have his moment with the audience. Travis’ wife, Mary Davis, stepped out to bring him backstage, and as soon as she did so, the crowd started to chant his name, putting a big smile on his face. 

As a result of his stroke in 2013, Randy Travis unfortunately was left with a rare condition known as aphasia, which has greatly impacted his ability to speak and sing. Even though he is unable to perform anymore, he still makes it a point to be very involved in the country music community, by presenting at award shows, making surprise appearances during shows like Anthony’s, and more. 


Randy Travis at the Oliver Anthony show at The Ryman in Nashville 2-21–24. What an honor to see him!#randytravis @Randy Travis @Oliver Anthony #countrymusictiktoks #nashville #country music

♬ original sound – 🤷🏼‍♂️

Anthony Opens Up About Randy Travis’ Impact

Once the “Forever And Ever, Amen” singer made his exit, Oliver Anthony took a moment to reflect on the impact Travis has had on his life and love of music.  

“I know I’m not the only one in this room who grew up listening to that man,” Anthony shared with the audience. “I think he was probably one of the first people I ever listened to because my mom, my grandma, everybody, that’s all they listened to was Randy Travis when I was a kid. It’s good having him here and it’s good having him around. I told him backstage, he’s truly, in a way, the glue that still sort of holds country music today together. That era of music was just so brilliant.”

Fans also got a look inside their meeting backstage, where the pair of artists snapped a few photos together. One moment that was captured and shared on Anthony’s Instagram story showed the “Ain’t Got A Dollar” singer kneeling down to shake the country icon’s hand, causing Anthony to joke that he’s “Never washing my hand again!”

Oliver Anthony, Randy Travis; Photo Courtesy of Oliver Anthony
Oliver Anthony, Randy Travis; Photo Courtesy of Oliver Anthony

Travis also shared his support of Anthony through his own Instagram post which found the two posing together in a room backstage. His caption credited Anthony for his authenticity as it read, “Lord it’s good to know there’s still a few ole country boys around…Such a pleasure witnessing @oliver_anthony_music_ debut at the Mother Church @theryman last night.”

Getting the chance to play the Ryman was already a major bucket list moment for Anthony, who said on social media that he “can’t believe this is real life,” but getting to do it with Randy Travis waiting in the wings made the evening that much more special. 

Out Of The Woods Tour 2024

His two-night run at the Ryman marks his return to the US following his first-ever visit outside the country as part of his OUT OF THE WOODS TOUR. The 40+ city trek launched on February 1 in Stockholm, Sweden and continued with shows in Stockholm, Oslo, Utrecht, Glasgow, Manchester, London, Belfast and Dublin. 

Anthony also recently made his Grand Ole Opry debut on Saturday, December 16. Coming up next, the viral singer/songwriter will visit various arenas and amphitheaters around the U.S. through September 13, when the tour will wrap in Allegan, MI at the Allegan County Fair.   

Oliver Anthony; Photo by Ben Houdijk

Overnight Sensation

In August of 2023, Oliver Anthony broke out onto the scene and became an overnight sensation with his viral anthem, “Rich Men North of Richmond,” which raked in 9.2 million views on YouTube in just five days. It has now been streamed more than 77 million times on YouTube and has notched over 115 million across all streaming platforms. Thanks to this song, Anthony made history as the first artist to debut at No.1 on the Billboard charts without previously having a song on the charts. Additionally, he is the first living male songwriter to chart 13 songs simultaneously in Billboard’s Top 50 Digital Song Sales. 

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Madeleine O’Connell graduated from North Central College with a bachelors degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications before deciding to pursue her studies further at DePaul University. There, she earned her masters degree in Digital Communication & Media Arts. O’Connell served as a freelance writer for over two years while also interning with the Academy of Country Music, SiriusXM and Circle Media and assisting with Amazon Music’s Country Heat Weekly podcast. In addition to Country Now, she has been published in American Songwriter, Music Mayhem, and Holler.Country. Madeleine O’Connell is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.