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Country singer Randy Travis back at Penn's Peak, Friday

  • Randy Travis
    Randy Travis
Published March 31. 2011 05:00PM

Not a lot of country singers from the 80s get ample radio play today, but Randy Travis still does.

It's no wonder why.

Just when many thought his string of hits had run its cycle, he recorded "Three Wooden Crosses" which got all sorts of awards.

Following that up, he teamed with current superstar Carrie Underwood to do a remake of the 1989 ballad "I Told You So," which quickly climbed the charts last year.

Friday night, Travis is coming to Penn's Peak in Jim Thorpe - a return appearance - where its assured he'll be singing his many, many number one songs.

Opening for him will be local songbird Nicole Donatone, a Penn's Peak radio personality who is in the process of recording her initial CD.

The event begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are $44 and $39.

Travis, in a phone interview, said he has just finished recording his 25th album, which he expects will be available in June. The new LP includes help from his many country music friends, including Alan Jackson who helps sing "Better Class of Losers," Kenny Chesney with "He Walks on Water," Shelby Lynn, Tim McGraw, Josh Turner, Willie Nelson, and Kris Kristofferson.

One of the very special tunes on the new LP, which accentuates the traditional country style of Travis, is a Waylon Jennings number, "Didn't We Shine," which is sung by Travis who is joined by such greats as Gene Watson, George Jones, Lorrie Morgan, Connie Smith, Joe Stampley and Ray Price.

Travis said he is also hoping to release a new single in the very near future.

The humble North Carolina native said he never tires of singing his same songs over and over; songs such as "On The Other Hand," "Forever and Ever," "1982," and "Deeper than the Holler."

"I've heard some people speak of getting tired of doing the same songs, but I don't" he said. "It's a new audience every night and they come to hear the songs."

He said the only part of touring he dislikes is the long bus rides. "Once I'm on stage, though, it's all worth it. The people have been great throughout my whole career."

The personable singer said a lot of times its how the audience reacts that determines how much talking and interacting he does. He noted he knows they come to hear him sing and he always does his best to deliver.

"I love it," he said, regarding seeing the response he gets from the crowds. "Whether they're laughing at me or with me, it doesn't matter. They're laughing."

Besides singing, Travis also has done a lot of acting. He said he has always been on the shy side and "if you asked me 20 years ago to do acting I would have said no."

He said he met Andy Griffiths during an event when troops were coming home from the Persian Gulf. Griffiths pursuaded him to try some acting. He did a couple of "Matlock" shows and was hooked. Since then he has appeared in numerous TV shows as well as movies including "Fire Down Below" starring Steven Seagal and "The Long Ride Home" in which he starred with Ernest Borgnine.

He was in the series finale of "Touched by an Angel."

Travis, when asked if traditional country was his favorite genre, responded, "Oh man, yeah. There's room for all kinds of influences. My true love is the traditional song going back to the Jones, the Haggards, and so many other greats."

He said "Three Wooden Crosses" was a last minute addition to his "Rise and Shine" album. He said the album was virtually completed when the song was pitched to him. He eliminated another cut on that album to put on "Three Wooden Crosses," a story about a tragic bus accident and a lone survivor.

The song won "CMA Song of the Year" honors in 2003 and had the unique distinction of being a number one country song off a gospel tract - something that hadn't been accomplished before.

Travis said he looks forward to returning to Penn's Peak. "Every time we come through, we have a wonderful crowd," he said. "I feel so fortunate to have such strong support."

Donatone will do about a half hour show, singing a variety of songs. Usually she includes a Patsy Cline number in her set.

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