WATCH: CMT ‘Artist Of A Lifetime’ Honoree Randy Travis Surprises a Tearful Jon Pardi During Tribute Performance

A surprise visit from longtime musical hero Randy Travis brought country star Jon Pardi to tears. On Monday (Oct.11) CMT teased a clip of the encounter between the two during a performance expected to air on the network during CMT’s Artists of the Year special, airing Wednesday, October 13.

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In his performance at the Nashville Palace, Pardi paid tribute to the CMT Artist of a Lifetime honoree with several selected songs from Travis’s spanning discography. The three-minute video clip opens with Pardi’s soulful rendition of the 1990 hit “He Walked On Water.” At the mic with an acoustic guitar, the footage is interjected by snippets of Travis en route to surprise his unknowing successor. The rotating reels build momentum up until Pardi catches a glimpse of the legend out of the corner of the empty landmark.

Pardi attempts to remain poised, but too stunned to continue, he stops strumming and exclaimed, “Well, hey Randy.” He laughs, adding, “that was a surprise!”

Sitting down with Travis and his wife, Mary, Pardi faced the camera as he explained that his inherited reverence for both country music, and especially Randy Travis, is passed down from his grandmother. Before he went on, the artist choked up again. “I’m getting a little emotional here, y’all got me man, y’all did me dirty,” Pardi says to the camera. Laughing through his streaming tears, he continues, “I was just here to sing.”

Before the surprise introduction, Pardi took to social media to announce his tribute to Travis and emphasize how honored he was for the opportunity. Songs like “On the Other Hand” and “Forever and Ever, Amen” soundtracked his childhood raised by his grandmother in Dixon, California—outside of Sacramento. To perform those songs at the Nashville Palace where Travis used to work on his way up the ladder makes this a full circle moment for everyone involved.

CMT’s Artist Of The Year special—honoring Gabby Barrett, Kane Brown, Kelsea Ballerini, Luke Combs, Chris Stapleton, ‘Breakout Artist Of The Year’ Mickey Guyton, and ‘Artist Of a Lifetime’ Randy Travis — will air on Wednesday, October 13 at 8/7c on CMT. Feature performances will include Brown, Combs, Ballerini with Jonas Brothers, Boyz II Men feat. Kevin Olusola of Pentatonix, Guyton, and Yola.

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