Jon Pardi Gets a Surprise Visit From Randy Travis During His CMT Tribute Performance [Watch]
Jon Pardi got an unforgettable surprise visit from a musical hero recently, when Randy Travis unexpectedly turned up when the younger star was in the middle of taping a tribute performance for Travis. The result was a heartwarming exchange between two generations of country traditionalists, and not even Pardi could keep his eyes dry when explaining what Travis' music meant to him and his family.
It all started when Pardi headed to Music City venue the Nashville Palace to record a performance and speak about Travis' legacy for Travis' upcoming CMT Artist of a Lifetime honor.
"Randy definitely influences me as an artist. He's one of my heroes, so it's always fun to do something and kinda go full circle. Because I grew up listening to Randy Travis. My grandma loved Randy Travis. And now here I am honoring him," Pardi says at the beginning of the clip, which shows interview footage interspersed with a video of him performing Travis' "He Walked on Water" on acoustic guitar.
Pardi went in knowing that he would be honoring Travis, but he didn't realize that there would be a very special audience member for his performance: The country giant himself. In the middle of a song, Travis entered the building along with his wife, Mary, and a grin broke across Jon's face. "Well, hey Randy! This is a surprise. Wow," he said as he concluded the song.
The two men were able to spend some time together during the shoot, with Pardi sharing some of his early memories of listening to Travis' music. "My grandmother loved you, and loved country music, so. Pretty cool," Pardi trails off, struggling to hold back tears as he adds with a laugh, "Y'all got me, man! I was just here to sing."
As Mary points out later in the conversation, the Nashville Palace is an especially poignant place for the two artists to meet, and for Pardi to perform in tribute to Travis. Early on in his career, Travis was a dishwasher and cook at the venue
"It's special being here at the Palace, and having you sing here, of course, where Randy got his start, a chef's hat and an apron on," Mary recalls. " And they'd call him up on the stage and he'd throw his apron off and throw his jacket on and jump up on the stage and sing."
At the end of the video, Pardi is again overcome by tears, this time as he's singing the final lines to "He Walked on Water." Travis, sitting beside him, laughs good-naturedly as he watches Pardi overtaken by emotion.
"Everybody needs a good cry every now and then, right, you know? Happy cry," Pardi adds.
Travis will be feted as 2021's Artist of a Lifetime during the 2021 CMT Artists of the Year ceremony, which is set for Wednesday (Oct. 13) at 9PM ET. Previous artists who've won the prestigious title include Merle Haggard, Kenny Rogers, Shania Twain, Loretta Lynn and Reba McEntire.