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Randy Travis Makes Unannounced Nashville Appearance

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Country icon Randy Travis made a surprise public appearance in Nashville on Wednesday night (Feb. 24).

Travis was on hand at the Grand Ole Opry House as music executive Jim Ed Norman was surprised with the Bob Kingsley Living Legend Award, which is awarded annually to an individual who has made a lasting impact on the country music business.

According to Nashville’s Tennessean newspaper, Norman’s four-decade career began in the 1970s, when he was involved with the Eagles. He ran Warner Bros. and Reprise Records in the 1980s, and currently serves as CEO of the Curb Group, where he oversees the careers of Lee Brice, Wynonna Judd and more.

The award was announced during a charity dinner to benefit the Opry Trust Fund, and artists including Travis, Brice, Big & Rich, Don Henley, Mickey Gilley, Michael Martin Murphey, TG Sheppard, Gary Morris, Crystal Gayle, Mo Pitney, Jeff Hanna and Kenny Rogers were present to see the man who had helped shape their careers receive the honor.

“Jim Ed, you’re the reason everyone knows about us, so God bless you,” John Rich said before Big & Rich performed.

Henley told the crowd that Norman wrote the string part for “Desperado,” and also played piano on “Lyin’ Eyes,” but he also played an even more significant role in Henley’s early career.

“You’re a good man,” he said. “You let me out of my contract so I could go make a record with these guys called the Eagles.”

Travis suffered a life-threatening stroke in July of 2013, and has been slowly recuperating since then. He sang in public for the first time since then on Feb. 3, when he performed “Amazing Grace” at a friend’s funeral in Texas.

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