AI with a Twang | God's World News

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AI with a Twang
News Shorts
Posted: May 08, 2024
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    Randy Travis lost his voice after a stroke in 2013. (AP/Mark Humphrey)
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    Randy and Mary Travis attend the 2023 Country Music Awards. (AP/Jeffrey McWhorter)
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    Mr. and Mrs. Travis take the stage at a Randy Travis tribute concert in 2017. (Laura Roberts/Invision/AP)
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A stroke took Randy Travis’ voice. Could AI bring it back?

Mr. Travis started singing and playing guitar in elementary school. By the 1980s, he’d become a country music star. His songs won dozens of awards. Later in life, he became a Christian. He made gospel and worship music.

But in 2013, Mr. Travis suffered a stroke. He had to learn how to walk, spell, and read again. The stroke left him with a condition called aphasia. Aphasia limits the ability to speak—or sing. Now his wife, Mary, helps him do interviews. For over a decade, he didn’t release new music.

Until now.

The co-president of Warner Music Nashville hatched an idea. “What if we could take Randy’s voice and recreate it using AI?” she wondered.

Mr. and Mrs. Travis agreed to try.

“All I ever wanted since the day of [the] stroke was to hear that voice again,” says Mrs. Travis.

Sound engineers got to work. They created an AI model of Mr. Travis’ voice. Engineers used more than 50 samples from across Mr. Travis’ career for the model.

With enough data, AI can find patterns. It uses those patterns to make models. Then it can use those models to make new stuff.

A real singer recorded the new song. Then AI swapped that voice with the model. It took about five minutes. The first result wasn’t perfect. Producers edited the song to sound even more like Mr. Travis’ voice. But soon, they had a new Randy Travis song. It’s called “Where That Came From.”

Mrs. Travis watched her husband listen to the song for the first time. “It was beautiful because at first, he was surprised,” she says. “And then he put his head down and his eyes were a little watery. I think he went through every emotion there was.”

Some people use AI for evil. Someone even faked phone calls from the President. But Mr. and Mrs. Travis hope their song will set a better standard. They believe people can use AI for good.

AI helped bring back Randy Travis’ voice. But that’s not his ultimate hope.

Mrs. Travis told Fox News faith got them through the hard times of Mr. Travis’ recovery. “We leaned hard on God,” she says. “There’s not a day that goes by that I just don’t thank God for His grace and His mercy.”

Technology can bring a young voice back to life—sort of. But true eternal life? That comes only from God.

For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. — John 6:40