Forever and Ever, Amen: A Memoir of Music, Faith, and Braving the Storms of Life
“Forever and Ever, Amen by Randy Travis is a strong memoir of faith, hope and triumph shining through times of extreme tribulation.”
For those who have loved the music of Randy Travis since the 1980s, Forever and Ever, Amen affords the reader the good fortune to discover the life behind the deep, mellow voice—which has been far from the glitz and glitter one would think.
Randy Bruce Traywick (later Travis) was born in 1959 in Marshville, North Carolina, one of six siblings to Bobbie Traywick—who worked in a textile mill, and Harold Traywick, a construction worker who also raised beef cows and trained horses on their large property.
His dad was a hard worker but was also difficult, often drank, and was an abusive
disciplinarian. However, his dad encouraged music lessons. Both Travis and his older brother, Ricky, learned guitar. Randy was chosen to sing.
Randy Travis often got in trouble starting at the age of 10. By the age of 16 he had many skirmishes with the law. He met Elizabeth “Lib” Hatcher and her then-husband, Frank, who offered Travis a job as a dishwasher—and occasional singer—in their club, Country City USA.
Hatcher kept him away from drugs and alcohol by keeping him employed and singing. Hatcher divorced her husband, and Travis and Hatcher moved to Nashville, where Hatcher took a job managing the famed Nashville Palace. Travis and Hatcher eventually wed, despite an 18-year age difference.
One night, Little Jimmy Dickens heard Travis sing and invited him to perform on the Grand Ole Opry—a golden ticket for any budding star.
“Traditional country music was all I wanted to do—it’s all I knew how to do.” It was at first difficult to market Travis in the early eighties when soft pop “country” was big due to the movie Urban Cowboy. Labels were seeking crossover artists, and he was pure country.
With a stunning career as a musician and movie actor, he’s met rock stars, presidents and (UK) royalty. Once, Mick Jagger asked to meet Travis during Travis’s concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall. But Randy Travis is a humble man who has always treated his staff as “we” and never “I.”
After almost countless platinum recordings, movie roles, and concerts, Hatcher’s and Travis’s marriage began to fall apart as her controlling nature escalated. It peaked in 2009 when Hatcher took over the career of a young singer they met in Ireland, and she gave more emphasis to the young singer’s career than to Randy Travis’s.
Travis began to confide in an old friend, Mary Davis, whom he’d known for over 20 years and who was also going through her own divorce. This friendship proved to be providence. They eventually moved in together to a ranch in Texas.
With the stress of impending divorce and attempt to dissolve a 30+ year business relationship with Hatcher, Travis began to drink. In 2012, he was arrested for public intoxication, then later for DUI while driving in the nude after mixing Ambien with alcohol.
All went downhill from there, when in 2013 he first developed walking pneumonia and later on, while in the ICU in McKinney, Texas, he flat lined and stopped breathing. Afterward, he suffered a virus in his heart and then a massive stroke. To add insult to injury, they found out he had no disability insurance. “This financial oversight . . . was the first indication that my health issues were not going to be the only problems we faced.”
Soon doctors wanted to take him off of life support, but Mary Davis looked for a sign. Travis, though almost completely immobile, shed a single tear. At that point, Davis said, “There’s a fighter in there.”
He began to rehabilitate, slowly, though he remains partially paralyzed and only able to sing a few words to his old songs. “In July 2013 I was given no hope and no chance of survival, but thanks to God, I’m still here.”
Travis and Davis were married in 2015, and she remains with him during his intensive rehab.
Travis was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2016, around the same time his father died. In going over his dad’s possessions, he found scrapbooks full of memorabilia relating to Randy Travis’s life and success.
In life, father and son couldn’t relate, but Travis saw his father’s fierce pride after his passing.
Herein lies a treasure trove of Travis’ complete catalog of hits (and misses), and the story behind each song—those he wrote, as well as those written by Nashville’s golden composers. Forever and Ever, Amen by Randy Travis is a strong memoir of faith, hope and triumph shining through times of extreme tribulation.