Travis is an incredibly humble, kind and honest man. He would never ask for help which is another reason for us to rally together and do what we can to ease the stress during this difficult chapter. Even if you don't have a dollar to spare, a simple prayer or even sharing this fundraiser would be greatly appreciated.
Here is Travis telling his story of what happened. It's raw, heartfelt, difficult to watch at times, and also one of the most difficult thing he's ever done. Grab a tissue.
Brian Panowich, an award-winning writer, has written his personal testimony on how Travis and his music have personally impacted his life.
In April of 2016, I was alone in a hotel room in Los Angeles.
I’d been nominated for The LA Times Book Prize. My first novel, Bull Mountain, had been released the year before to a wealth of accolades and my career as a successful writer seemed to be taking off at a rate that exceeded everyone’s expectations—including my own. At that exact moment in time, however, the rest of my life was a complete and utter disaster. My decade-long marriage was coming to a hard and bitter end, my drinking to self-medicate was at an all-time high, and my ability to believe in myself, or anything else for that matter, had reached an all-time low. I didn’t even recognize the man in the mirror staring back at me. That person was nothing like the one I’d spent my life trying to become. I was lost. I was tired. I was alone. And I was in pain.
I remember staring out through the huge windows of that hotel room and down at the lights of the city from ten stories above. I was there for one of the most prestigious awards in the world of literature and I still felt like a complete failure—as a husband, a father, a son, and as a man. Everything was upside down and I didn’t see it ever being any different.
Now, I’m not saying that I wanted to die in that hotel room, but I did find myself thinking about just how many sleeping pills I’d need to combine with the booze in the minibar to just fall asleep and never have to wake up and feel that way again.
Luckily for me, along came Travis Meadows.
Several months before that night in LA, a dear friend of mine had sent me a link to an album called “Killin’ Uncle Buzzy” by Travis and claimed it was one of the best pieces of recorded music he’d ever heard. I didn’t listen to it at the time, but for some reason, that night in LA, I sat on the edge of that hotel bed and hit play. I listened to Travis Meadows sing Minefield—and I cried—a lot.
I had already made up my mind that I wasn’t going to attend any ceremony that weekend. In fact, I had no plans of leaving that room, but by the time I’d finished listening to “Killin’ Uncle Buzzy” all the way to the end, I’d cried most of that isolation away. It felt like Travis had written that record just for me. It was as if he had already gone through everything I was feeling first, so he could write a collection of songs that would serve as a road map out of my own personal hell.
Songs like, Grown Up Clothes, where he spoke unabashedly about the death of his father and never quite coming to terms with losing him—or being just like him. I lost my father in 2002 and still haven’t fully recovered, so I got it. Or Good Intentions, where Travis owns out loud his shortcomings as a husband and father. The honesty was brutal to hear. Other songs like, It ain’t Fun No More and Learning To Live Alone and What We Ain’t Got. Travis had laid his soul bare on the table for the world to see and listen to.
Some people might call it fate that I picked that night to discover the magic of Travis Meadows, but I prefer to call it divine intervention. I didn’t dive into the minibar that night. I didn’t even think to. Instead, I listened to every Travis Meadows song I could find on repeat until I finally fell asleep. I got up the next morning, made my bed, washed my face, and walked out of that room to do what I’d come there to do. To go be the man my kids wanted me to be. It hasn’t been a walk in the park since, but I can say without a doubt in my mind that Travis Meadows saved my life that night and would again and again over the next several years.
Not long after that trip to California, I found a way to reach out to Travis. I didn’t just want to thank him, but I wanted to be his friend. I wanted to know this person who could write songs like that. I felt in Travis a kindred spirit. I was surprised and starstruck when he reached back. And his demeanor was as warm and welcoming as his music. Over the years we have become friends, and his friendship is something I cherish above most things. He even let me use a few lines from Minefield as the epigraph for my second novel and sometimes our conversations on sobriety last hours into the night—long after anyone else would’ve hung up the phone. I’ve come to love Travis Meadows for the size of his heart and his capacity to shine light and hope on his friends and fans despite whatever hardships he may be going through himself.
People sometimes say “Never meet your heroes. They will let you down.” In Travis’s case, he just became a bigger hero and someone I still aspire to be more like today.
So, you can imagine that when I heard of Travis’s health issues, I didn’t just feel obligated to help out, but a fundamental urgency to do everything I could to help heal the man who has given so much of himself to me and so many others.
Travis had been putting off a much-needed surgery on his back, so he could continue to write and record the songs that so many of us out here depend on. At the urging of his beautiful wife, Katy, and with her by his side, he finally scheduled what should’ve been a simple surgery.
That's when a lot of things went a lot of wrong.
Another issue came up, one infinity more frightening, in his neck and another emergency surgery was scheduled. He only spent a few hours in recovery from that second operation before it got even worse, and he started to show symptoms that even had the top-notch surgical team at a loss. Symptoms that not only are threatening to Travis’s quality of life but are threatening to his one gift to the world—his voice.
A sickness that attacks the one thing a person like Travis needs to order to feel whole and necessary to the world is possibly the single worst level of hell a singer/songwriter can experience. My friend, my brother, my hero, laid in a hospital bed and had to relearn how to swallow as we all waited patiently for news about his recovery. After several weeks, he was able to take the time to record one of the bravest videos I’ve ever seen, just to let us all know how he was doing. Something he didn’t have to do but felt like he needed to for us. Because that is who he is. He also didn’t ask anyone for a thing.
And so that’s where we come in. Travis has written too many songs to list for countless artists in the country music business and he is responsible for using his own voice to record even more songs that have changed the lives of thousands—many even more than that. So, it’s simply not an option to sit back and allow that voice to be silenced or to let a light like his to be diminished under a ton of medical bills.
So, calling all Travlers. We need you. Travis & Katy need you. Travis’s son Josiah needs you. It’s time to be Risers and give it back. It’s time to show Travis Meadows the same hope and love he’s given to us for decades.
And not just because he needs us, but because we need him. And because the world is simply a better place to live in with Travis Meadows singing the soundtrack.
March 17, 2021
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