Country singer Dave Alexander will be paying tribute to Grammy Award-winning country music star Randy Travis on Nov. 18. The Travis Tribute concert will begin at 8 p.m. at the First State Bank Center for the Performing Arts on the North Central Texas College campus in Gainesville.
Travis who owns land in Tioga will be in attendance at the concert.
“I am a professional musician, and I have had a career for many years,” Alexander said. “I have worked with a lot of people. The first time that I met Randy, I was working at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in the 1990s.”
Alexander was performing with the rodeo’s house band.
“We would perform 22 shows in two weeks,” Alexander said. “I was the opening act for the headliner for the show for many years. I met a lot of musicians because of the show and the rodeo. Randy Travis came to Houston to the show. He was a super guy. He was amazing.”
Long before that, Alexander and Travis used the same producer for their albums.
“I went on with my career,” Alexander said. “I learned that he moved into the North Texas area. I called to check on him because I knew him from the country music scene as well as when I performed with the Houston Livestock Show. I just could not get through to him.”
Not long after, Alexander learned that Travis had a stroke.
“I went to visit with him and he may not have even recognized me,” Alexander said. “I met his wife. I decided to bring musicians to play for him. I got my buddies. We began to play music and he began to perk up. By the end of the show, he really seemed like he was into it. I left realizing that it did do him some good.”
Alexander decided to bring music to Travis as much as he could.
“I went by myself and I would bring him a chicken dinner,” Alexander said. “I would not play his music at first. I am no Randy Travis by any means and playing Randy Travis music for Randy Travis can be kind of intimidating. His wife asked my why I never played his music, so I played a song of his for him.”
That was one of the first times that Alexander got a smile out of Travis. After that, Alexander decided to invite Travis to one of his shows in Dallas.
“The first night, he walked in and walked by me,” Alexander said. “I smiled because that was the first time that I had seen him walk since his stroke. It was incredible.”
A funny thing happened during that performance, Alexander said.
“I made a mistake,” he said. “I did not come in when I was supposed to. The band followed me and came back around to my entrance. Randy made a noise because he knew exactly what I did.”
Later in the show, Alexander made another mistake.
“This time he pointed at me,” Alexander said. “Before this time, I did not realize how much of me playing for him he really understood. This time, I made another mistake to see if he would do it again.”
That is when Alexander realized that Travis was the same musician he had always been.
“He was just trapped inside of his body,” Alexander said. “Just like anyone would after a major stroke.”
Travis was experiencing viral cardiomyopathy.
“While Randy was working on a film, he was doing a lot of work in a chicken house or near a chicken coup,” Alexander said. “It is believed to be the cause of his stroke in 2013. He was given a 2 to 4 percent chance of living. The doctor told his wife that it was going to be really hard. He was not ready to die and his wife knew it. Sure enough, he was hearing what was going on around him. She said that she saw a tear come from his eye.”
That was when Travis came home and started over. And, with Alexander’s help, Travis got back to the music.
“He was always a normal guy from meek beginnings,” Alexander said. “He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He has been in movies. He was won more Grammy’s than Blake Shelton. Randy has had bigger numbers than so many of the country music stars of today. He was then reduced to a meek resolve.”
To help others that have had the same medical diagnosis as him, Travis started the Randy Travis Foundation.
“They work to raise money for research into cardiomyopathy,” Alexander said. “They also want to help with rehabilitating those affected. It’s about body and mind. If you keep the mind alive and enthused, you will keep the body. You can recover. It’s debilitating but its reversible.”
The Randy Travis Foundation also helps children and works to expose more children to music and instruments.
“He wants to give them happiness and encouragement,” Alexander said. “He wants to teach children that they are somebody. I know if I did not have music, I do not know where I would be today.”
The tribute concert Alexander is putting on is his way of helping out his friend. All the proceeds from the concert will go toward cardiomyopathy research and for music education for children.
“This event is Dave Alexander sings with guest Randy Travis,” Alexander said. “The two sponsors of the event are First State Bank here in Gainesville and Select Energy. After the CMAs this week, we will have a Randy Travis original story talking about his come back that will show on ABC.”
Tickets for the concert at $30 each and for an additional $20 concert patrons can visit backstage with Travis and Alexander. A photographer will be on hand so Travis can take photos with fans.
“If you ever got anything from Randy Travis, this is the time to say thank you,” Alexander said. “He has had more than 50 singles and more than 20 No. 1 albums. He gave me so much encouragement. When I think, I have had a bad day, I just think about him and I know things will be OK. When he cracks a smile, it will take your heart.”
Tickets are still on sale and can be purchased at http://davealexander.com.
“It inspires those of all ages,” Alexander said. “We want to take this tribute concert and make it national. We want to take this all around and just encourage others and encourage Randy.”