Country music star Randy Travis makes rare visit to his hometown outside Charlotte

Marshville will honor country singer Randy Travis on Saturday with highways signs welcoming highway travelers to his birthplace.
Marshville will honor country singer Randy Travis on Saturday with highways signs welcoming highway travelers to his birthplace. John Davisson/Invision/AP

Country music star Randy Travis will make a rare appearance in his hometown of Marshville Saturday so community leaders can salute him with keys to the city and unveil highway signs that will welcome travelers to the “Home of Randy Travis.”

Travis is expected to attend in a wheelchair, due to a 2013 stroke that left him partially paralyzed. His wife, Mary, will speak on his behalf at the event, said organizers.

The highway signs will be erected at the east and west entrances of the Union County town next week, along U.S. 74, officials said. The town is about 35 miles east of Charlotte.

Marshville Mayor Franklin Deese will lead the ceremony at 3 p.m. Saturday, as part of Marshville’s 21st Annual Boll Weevil Jamboree, organized by the Marshville Chamber of Commerce. The stage is at the corner of Main Street and N.C. Highway 205.

Travis’ brother, Ricky Traywick, is among the acts that will perform at the two-day festival.

Kay Strawn, events coordinator for the jamboree, says the plan to honor Travis has been months in the making and the singer was involved in selecting the design of the highway signs. The town had signs honoring Travis in years past, she said, but they weren’t of “a lasting quality.”

Photo of the new Randy Travis signs being erected outside Marshville, N.C. Kay Strawn, Marshville Chamber of Commerce

“This town continues to be proud of him,” said Strawn. “One thing we always noticed: Whenever he did an interview, he always told them he was from Marshville. He could have just said ‘I’m from Charlotte,’ which people would have recognized. He always gave credit to his home being Marshville, and I think that’s important.”

Travis, who lives in Texas, got his start playing nightclubs in Charlotte. He moved to Nashville and became an instant hit in 1986 with the release of the album “Storms of Life.” In the years that followed, he sold more than 25 million records and earned 20-plus No. 1 hits. He was inducted in the Country Music Hall of Fame last year, and stood to sing a shaky version of “Amazing Grace.”

His health troubles began on July 7, 2013, when he had trouble breathing. He was later diagnosed with viral cardiomyopathy, a virus that settles in the heart. His heart had started to shut down, the Tennessean newspaper reported last year.

Travis spent nearly six months in hospitals in Texas and Tennessee, including six weeks in a coma. He had two brain surgeries, got pneumonia three times, and had three tracheotomies and a feeding tube, the Tennessean reported.

He was last in Marshville for his father’s funeral in October 2016.