The CMT Artists of the Year ceremony aired on Wednesday (October 13), and saw performances from much of country music's top talents, as well as honoring many of country music's top talent. While many artists took to the stage to accept honors and perform, Randy Travis was recognized as the Artist of a Lifetime during the ceremonies.
Both Garth Brooks and Kane Brown honored Travis during the ceremony, with Brooks introducing the legendary country singer for the award. Brooks said in a 2019 interview with The Tennessean that he believes Travis "saved country music," explaining, "I don't know of any artist who took a format and turned it 180 [degrees] back to where it came from and made it bigger than it was then."
"If you're like me, you pray that another Randy Travis [type talent] shows up every day," Garth Brooks said as he welcomed Travis to the stage. Travis' wife, Mary Davis, joined the legendary singer on stage to accept the award.
"As Randy would say, I think you've said it before, 'It's a pretty good night for me,'" Davis said on Travis' behalf. "After listening to these artists tonight, and these uplifting songs, and the great sounds that are coming from them, thank you so much for following in the footsteps because we fully expect to see y'all up here one day, celebrating you as Artists of a Lifetime."
While Travis himself could not speak due to his 2014 stroke and lasting aphasia, the singer chimed in frequently to agree with Davis' sentiment. As Davis said, "I have to say, tonight is the best memory, the sweetest memory, right, honey?" Travis continued to say "yes," the couple getting emotional on stage as they accepted the honor.
Brown also performed a cover of Travis' 2002 hit, "Three Wooden Crosses," telling Travis as he received his own award, "You're such a good role model for [up and coming artists]." Throughout his career, Brown has included "Three Wooden Crosses" as a staple in his sets, the singer citing Travis as a lasting influence for him, personally.