Randy Travis Uses AI To Release First New Song In Over A Decade

The track “Where That Came From” was generated with artificial intelligence.


Madeleine O’Connell

| Posted on

May 7, 2024


10:25 am

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Randy Travis; Photo by Marisa Taylor

On Friday, May 3, just one day before his 65th birthday, Randy Travis made history as he dropped “Where That Came From,” his first new song in over a decade. With the announcement of the new music also came a wave of confusion and uncertainty from fans, knowing that the country legend’s ability to sing and speak has been greatly impacted by his diagnoses of aphasia, after suffering a stroke back in 2013. 

So how is it possible that Travis was able to give this miraculous gift to his longtime fans? It all began when the singer’s label, Warner Music Nashville, and his longtime producer, Kyle Lehning, came up with the idea to use artificial intelligence (AI) to give Travis his voice back. Lehning opted to create a new rendition of “Where That Came From,” a song originally recorded by James Dupre, but never released. 

Randy Travis - Where That Came From
Randy Travis – Where That Came From

In order to make the tune sound like a true Randy Travis song and give it that human touch, Lehning selected 42 tracks from the country star’s vault, including the original recording of his hit “1982,” and plucked out snippets of his signature vocals. From there, he used a “surrogate” voice to complete the project, which came from the song’s original recording artist, DuPre.

The AI program took these stripped-down clips of Travis’ voice and overlayed it on top of DuPre’s vocals to create a sound that still holds that same comforting feeling that his music has offered throughout his entire career. Plus, Randy Travis was said to be a “vital part” in the entire decision-making process of the groundbreaking release. 

As AI continues to evolve, it has become a rather controversial topic, especially among the music industry. Many artists, including Travis, have fallen victim to users creating AI-generated recordings of their voices that in turn sound nothing like them and sometimes even offer false information to the world. In this case, Warner Music Group executives made it their mission to use the technology for good.

Warner Music Nashville Co-Chair & Co-President, Cris Lacy said, “AI for good would be giving Randy Travis his voice back.”

Travis and Lehning spent months working on every note of “Where That Came From” to ensure that the Grammy Award-winning Country Music Hall of Famer’s special touch could be felt throughout the entire tune. 

“Eleven years ago I never thought I would be able to have a hand in music production of any kind,” shared Travis. “But by God’s grace and the support of family, friends, fellow artists, and fans, I’m able to create the music I so dearly love. Working with Kyle Lehning and Warner Music Nashville again has been so special and nostalgic, and I’m so excited to share my new song “Where That Came From” with you today. Many thanks to my wonderful team and the best fans in the world for putting me back in the saddle again! I’ve enjoyed every moment of it.”


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Fans React On Social Media

Since learning that the release was made possible by using computer-generated vocals, the feedback from fans has included a mix of excitement and uncertainty. Many have expressed sincere gratitude for reliving his unforgettable sound in “Where That Came From,” while others are unsure what this means for the future of music. 

“You’re my favorite. But this is just wrong and sets the absolute worst precedent,” one user wrote. 

Another fan said, “I am so happy for Randy. A new song, I thought we’d never hear another with his one of a kind beautiful voice💞.”

Others got emotional as they said hearing this song left them feeling very nostalgic. “This brings me back to my childhood. He is still my favorite voice in country music!”

One thing is for sure, Warner Music Group is proud to have played a part in bringing this innovative project to life. This song serves as an important moment in history as it signifies the start of removing the “artificial” in artificial intelligence and replacing it with true authenticity. 

“The motivation behind a musical recording is specific to each individual artist,” explains Lacy. “The genesis of this particular track came from a visceral desire to restore what was taken away from someone we know and love – Randy Travis. It was inspired by his courage to continue as a vital contributor to the music community. In working with him to make new recordings, the byproduct is a gift that goes straight to our hearts. AI may have been a tool that helped us along, but it was a group of dedicated and passionate humans, including Randy himself, that brought this beautiful song to life.”

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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.