With a rich, deep, baritone voice and distinctive style, Josh Turner has sold more than 12.5 million units, is a disciple of traditional country music and one of the youngest members of the esteemed Grand Ole Opry. From his 2003 platinum-selling debut Long Black Train to his most recent 2017 Billboard No. 1 release, Deep South, Turner has garnered multiple GRAMMY, CMA, and ACM nominations. Turner’s hits include “Hometown Girl,” “Your Man,” “Why Don’t We Just Dance,” “Firecracker,” “Would You Go with Me,” “All Over Me,” and “Time Is Love,” the most played country song of 2012.
By: NATALIE STUBBS
Have you ever had a chance to explore parts of Georgia outside of your show venues?
“Yeah, my wife is actually from the Atlanta area and her mom is from South Georgia, so we’ve done lots of fishing down there. And I’m a huge Braves fan!”
You grew up not too far from Georgia in a town called Hannah, South Carolina – what kind of influence do you think your hometown had on your music career?
“A huge impact and influence! I grew up in a strong Christian home and a tight knit community – kind of shielded from the outside world; but I learned a lot about life, about people, about relationships, about nature. Did I make mistakes after I left home? Absolutely. But I knew what was right, and knew it would take some hard work and sacrifice to get a record deal and to achieve my goals.”
Your most recent hit, “Hometown Girl” (from the album Deep South) seemed to really hit home for you and your fans – what’s the story behind that one?
““Hometown Girl” was written by Marc Beeson and Daniel Tashian and the first time I heard it, I just knew it would be a hit – a melody that got stuck in your head whether you wanted it to or not (laughs). Once it came out and started getting a lot of airplay, my fans, especially female fans, really latched on to this song. They felt uplifted and empowered by the message in the song, unlike a lot of the other songs you hear on the radio that make women feel objectified and looked at in a different way. But when they heard this song, it sort of developed an anthem for them, which is pretty cool.”
If you had to pick your most memorable moment throughout your career, what would it be?
“One of the most memorable was probably my Opry debut on December 21, 2001. People are still talking about that today. It took me a while to realize why it was so memorable because, at first, I always talked about how I got two standing ovations and an encore after playing “Long Black Train” on my first Opry debut. It was late in the show and the General Manager allowed me to go out and play just one song, so I didn’t really expect anything out of that besides the satisfaction of playing (at the Opry) for the first time and getting my feet wet. But, the reception that I got was just so overwhelming. I went years thinking “oh yeah that’s so cool,” but then it dawned on me one day that the significant thing about that night was that no one knew who I was, they had never heard the name Josh Turner, they had never heard this song, they had never seen my face before, didn’t know anything about me, there wasn’t a press release saying I was coming to the Opry; I walked out on that stage completely unknown to the world, and that made that reaction and response I got so much clearer because it was unadulterated, raw, fresh – it hadn’t been tampered with ahead of time. It was everybody’s first time hearing me.”
To add to your success, you’re also an accomplished writer. Did you find writing Man Stuff to be any different than writing songs?
“Yeah, I felt like it was pretty different because I wasn’t hunched over a guitar, wearing my voice out all day; I didn’t have to make anything rhyme or be 3-4 minutes long. All those restrictions you have with song writing were gone. The only restriction I really had was trying to keep it within the genre I was trying to write towards, which was basically a devotional. The first day I started working on it I literally sat for 13 hours straight, just sitting back telling stories, looking back on my experiences and advice that I was given that I learned from and felt like I could really grow from.”
Tell us a little bit more about The Josh Turner Scholarship Fund.
“I was talking to my producer one day, who went to a really big high school, and we started sharing our experiences musically in our schools. We didn’t have a lot of music programs – it just never really stuck and the school system couldn’t afford extracurricular activities, but he told me about all the trips they took, all the bands and groups they had and how much fun it was. We didn’t have a tenth of that (laughs), so it made me realize that there are probably other students out there who have the passion, but don’t have the resources for it in their high school to get where they want to go. I started targeting those specific students who had a passion for music and art and wanted to pursuit it beyond high school, so I started helping them out monetarily with a scholarship to go to the school of their choice. It’s worked out pretty well so far, I’ve lost count of the recipients we’ve had, so it’s been pretty cool to help them.”
Before launching your career, you spent some time at Belmont University in Nashville – were you studying music or did you have a different plan in mind at the time?
I went there to study music.
Do you feel like attending Belmont University helped your music career or was it more of your field experience, or maybe a combination of both that helped shape your career?
“Belmont opened my eyes to a lot of things that I didn’t know. I was definitely behind a curve when I got there because when I was in high school, we didn’t have any kind of music education like that, so when I got to Belmont it was completely foreign to me, like learning a new language. I played a lot of catch up, but I learned a lot about music and every aspect of it. I told people most of what I learned at Belmont was who I was – as a man, as an artist and who I wanted to be – a lot that I wouldn’t have learned if I had stayed in South Carolina.”</em>
If you could leave your fans with one piece of advice, what would it be?
“Oh, man, that’s a good, tough question. I would just say: be yourself. I see so many people today, especially young people, trying to be somebody else or compromise who they are to please other people – that’s just a dangerous place to be, so be yourself and be okay with it!”
Josh Turner will be playing The Bowl @ Sugar Hill, August 12th, 2017 – tickets available now at TheBowlatSugarHill.com.