Jon Pardi was overcome with emotion when country legend Randy Travis surprised him during a recent performance.
Pardi, who looks up to Travis as one of his musical heroes, paid tribute to the CMT Artist Of A Lifetime honoree with a several song performance at the Nashville Palace, which is expected to air during CMT’s Artist Of The Year special on Wednesday (Oct. 13).
In a clip, shared by CMT on Monday (Oct. 11), the country superstar gets the surprise of a lifetime by Travis while recording the video. Ahead of his performance, he shared how much Travis means to him and how he has influenced his career.
“Randy definitely influences me as an artist. He’s one of my heroes, so it’s always fun to do something and kind of go full circle. I grew up listening to Randy Travis, my Grandma loved Randy Travis and now here I am honoring him,” Pardi said of the legendary country hitmaker. “Your influences will guide you to what you want to do, if you do it right.”
Throughout the opening segments of the 3-minute clip, Pardi is seen performing Travis’ “He Walked On Water” intertwined with footage of Travis in the car with his wife, Mary, on the way to surprise Pardi, who had no idea the country icon was coming. Then, as Travis entered the room in the midst of Pardi’s performance, he was shocked and overcome with emotion.
“Well, hey Randy, that was a surprise!” Pardi said as he seen Travis appear during his performance.
After trying to hold it together for the performances’ sake, he just couldn’t and broke down in happy tears.
“I’m getting a little emotional here, y’all got me man, y’all did me dirty,” Pardi said as tears streamed down his face. “I was just here to sing.”
After being surprised, Pardi continued his tribute performance, singing “He Walked On Water,” while Travis watch from beside him.
“It’s special being here at the Palace and having you singing here for Randy, where he of course, he got his start,” Travis’ wife explained to Pardi, referencing Travis’ time as a dishwasher, cook and singer at the infamous Nashville venue.
“Everybody needs a good cry now and then, right?” Pardi joked as the clip ended. “A happy cry.”
In a video shared by CMT on Sunday (Oct. 10), Pardi paid tribute to CMT’s Artist Of A Lifetime. The clip, which was also recorded at The Nashville Palace in Tennessee, finds Pardi paying homage to the country music legend.
In the near 10-minute long clip, Pardi performed two of Travis’ iconic hits, including “On the Other Hand” and “Forever and Ever, Amen,” which he called two “big ol’ hits.” During the video, he also honored Travis with some heartfelt stories.
“Randy Travis is country. When you think legendary country, it’s Randy Travis,” said. “I’m such a big fan of Randy, it just goes to show… your influences will guide you to what you want to do if you do it right. Being a part of country music now, with all the new artists, and then you got our legends like Randy. We’re all a part of this big community and my names in that big hat with Randy and that’s a big deal.”
Pardi then recalled growing up in Northern California listening to Travis with his grandma.
“I grew up in Northern California, outside of Sacramento. Grew up in Dixon, my Mom was from Winters, Dad was from Dixon,” Pardi recalled. “My parents go to work and I would stay at my Grandmother’s house. My Grandma loved Randy Travis, I still have Randy Travis cassette tapes of hers.”
“‘On The Other Hand’ is a great song, it’s a classic, but it’s got such an intro to it, you know? Once you hear that guitar strumming, you know what song it is, and it’s just all around a great song, and it’s timeless,” Pardi said of the timeless tune before performing “On The Other Hand.”
The Universal Music Group Nashville recording artist strummed his acoustic guitar while singing the twangy tune by Travis, sitting in the middle of the Nashville Palace surrounded by his band as well as tables with chairs piled on top of them.
The singer continued with a second performance, this time of Travis’ chart-topping, iconic hit, “Forever And Ever, Amen.”
“‘Forever And Ever, Amen’ launched Randy Travis into this megastar, and it was a huge song,” Pardi shared before he performed the country classic. “They played it at like every wedding. I could only wonder how many wedding he got invited to, to sing. I always loved ‘Forever And Ever, Amen,’ it’s a beautiful song and I don’t know if any other artist could pull that song off the way he did it and make it as massive as Randy Travis did it.”
The televised special will air on Wednesday, October 13 at 8/7c on CMT and will feature performances by Brown, Combs, Ballerini with Jonas Brothers, Boyz II Men feat. Kevin Olusola of Pentatonix, Guyton and Yola as well as Walker Hayes, who will be making his awards show debut with a performance of “Fancy Like.”