(L-R) Kyle Lehning and Randy Travis

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Legendary country music star Randy Travis hasn’t released a new single since suffering a stroke in 2013 that robbed him of his cherished singing voice. Until now. CBS NEWS SUNDAY MORNING’s Lee Cowan gets an exclusive inside look at how cutting-edge artificial intelligence enabled Travis to once again raise his voice in song, in a story to be broadcast Sunday, May 5 (9:00 AM, ET) on the CBS Television Network, and streaming on Paramount+.

“There’s just so much chatter about all the negative sides of AI,” says Cris Lacy, co-chair and co-president of Warner Music Nashville. “We started with this concept of ‘What would AI … look like for us?’ And the first thing that came to mind … was we would give Randy Travis his voice back.”

Doctors gave Travis (“Forever and Ever, Amen,” “Deeper Than the Holler”) just a 2% chance of surviving the stroke. Besides paralysis, the area of his brain controlling speech and language was damaged almost beyond repair.

Cowan talks with Travis and his wife, Mary, and also gets a behind-the-scenes look at how Travis’ longtime producer, Kyle Lehning, with Travis’ blessing, crafted a song using the chart-topping singer’s past audio tracks as a starting point. With the help of another singer, a specially designed AI program overlayed Travis’ voice on the new recording. With Travis’ input, Lehning painstakingly molded the AI-generated vocal into a song that felt authentic to the country icon. “It’s not about how it sounds. It’s about how it feels,” Lehning says.

“Him being here and him being able to be, you know, a vital part of the decision-making process makes all the difference to me,” Lehning says.

“It’s Randy Travis,” says Lacy. “Randy’s on the other side of the microphone … It’s still his vocal … There’s no reason he shouldn’t be able to make music … And to deprive him of that, if he still wants to do that, that’s unconscionable to me.”

Cowan was there when Travis’ country music friends and family heard the song for the first time. Travis’ single “Where That Came From” was released to the public on May 3.

“It’s so weird to try and explain everything that goes through your head when you’re listening to it,” says his stepdaughter, Cavanaugh Mauch.

CBS NEWS SUNDAY MORNING has been the #1 Sunday morning news program for 23 consecutive broadcast seasons. It is broadcast Sundays (9:00-10:30 AM, ET) on the CBS Television Network and streaming on Paramount+. Rand Morrison is the executive producer. 

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Press Contact:

Richard Huff