“Most Artists Haven’t Written Their Own Song A Day In Their Life” – Zach Bryan Sounds Off On Randy Travis AI Single

Randy Travis Zach Bryan
CBS Sunday Morning/Trevor Pavlik

Everybody has an opinion on the new Randy Travis single.

Last week, the country legend dropped his first single in over a decade with “Where That Came From,” and the first new song he’s released since his near-fatal stroke in 2013.

The stroke left Randy largely unable to speak or walk, so fans were shocked when it was announced that he had brand new music on the way.

Immediately there was speculation that “Where That Came From” was AI-generated, and that was confirmed by an appearance on CBS Sunday Morning that took fans behind the scenes of the making of the new single.

And to be fair, the song written by John Scott Sherrill and Scotty Emerick isn’t exactly what you think of when you think of an AI-generated song. There are actual songwriters, so it’s not just a Chat GPT-generated song, and an actual singer recorded the original vocals: James Dupre, a former contestant on The Voice who also stands in for Randy on his tour dates.

But when it came to Randy’s distinctive baritone voice, that’s where producer Kyle Lehning turned to AI for help.

Vocals were isolated from over 40 of Randy’s original tracks. After the music was stripped away, leaving only Randy’s voice, it was then overlaid onto the track from Dupre to create the final product.

Lehning says that they had to go “syllable-by-syllable” to get the sound right, admitting that it freaked him out the first time he heard it come together:

“It freaked me out. When I played it back, it was like, ‘Oh my.’ And I immediately though, ‘This might work.’

Then as I listened more and more and more, and could start to dig into the nuance of it, realized that in order to really make it work, it was going to take a little bit more massaging.”

The producer says that the most important thing was to get the feel of the song right, adding that Randy was in the studio and involved in the whole process of making sure the song was done correctly:

“Him being here and him being able to be, you know, a vital part of the decision-making process makes all the difference to me.”

Of course it’s great to hear Randy’s voice on new music again, and I don’t think anybody would deny that. But not everybody’s sold on the use of AI to create a new Randy Travis song, especially because of the implication it could have for music in the future:

Most artists who have spoken on the song have been (predictably) publicly supportive, if only because it’s Randy Travis. But Zach Bryan took to Twitter today to make it clear that he’s all-in on not only the song, but on the future of AI in music.

“Some people are so shocked and offended by the Randy Travis AI song when most artists haven’t written their own song a day in their life

my main concern is when we’re going to start doing cool things with it like have Johnny Cash on a Beastie Boys song or feature Bob Dylan with Beyoncé.”

Regardless of whether you think it’s a good idea, Zach’s spot on in that those are the kinds of things AI is eventually going to be used for. Want to do a duet but can’t find time to get another artist in the studio? No problem, just use AI. Hell, maybe an artist wants to put out an album but would rather spend time on the golf course than in the studio, so they just sign off on it and use AI to make the actual album come to life.

Or what if an aging artist wants to release an album but their voice is falling off, so instead of singing live, they use AI to create new music with their voice at its peak.

The possibilities (or threats, depending on how you feel about it) are endless, and I have a feeling that it won’t be long before we see a dead artist’s estate decide to release “new” music from an artist who’s been gone for years.

It’s inevitable, whether we like it or not.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock