Josh Turner was born in Hannah, South Carolina, where he sang in church choirs. His voice developed, and when he graduated high school, he moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where he attended Belmont University, a private liberal arts institute with a Christian-based ethical system. Nashville's first radio station and broadcast music program was established on the Belmont campus, and the university is also home to a renowned music business program. Other Country music stars to have attended Belmont include Pam Tillis, Trisha Yearwood, Lee Ann Womack, and Brad Paisley.
Turner's first hit single, "Long Black Train
," is his breakthrough song. After debuting it at the Grand Ole Opry in 2001, he released the song as a single from his debut album, Long Black Train
, two years later. It reached #13 on the Billboard Country charts and achieved gold status. When asked what his inspiration for the song was, Turner said he had envisioned a long, black train that was running down a track with people standing around watching it. Turner asked himself, "What does this vision mean and what is this train?" It occurred to him that the "train was a physical metaphor for temptation. These people are caught up in the decision of whether or not to go on this train." At the time, Turner was trying to discover who he was as an individual, as well as his freedom of being away from home. He continued on to say that the song and the album "are very special to me. It was just one of those things that I felt like God gave to me for a purpose, and I've been out here promoting that purpose."
After the release of his second album, Your Man, Turner had his first #1 hit on the Billboard Country charts with "Your Man." His first song to break through the Billboard Hot 100 was "Would You Go with Me," which reached #48; it was also from his second album.
Turner was invited to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 2007, becoming the second youngest person inducted into the prestigious country music hall. The Grand Ole Opry is a concert music venue that presents a weekly country music concert showcasing the finest performers in country, bluegrass, folk, and gospel music. It is "the show that made country music famous."
Also an actor, Turner won the part of gospel singing great George Beverly Shea in the 2008 film, Billy: The Early Years. Shea was noted as the first international gospel music singer, as well as the singer that accompanied evangelist Billy Graham and performed at the conclusion of each of Graham's ministries.
Turner's wife, Jennifer, is also trained as a vocalist. She is a background singer and keyboardist for Turner when he goes on tour.
About 500 people attended Turner and Jennifer's June 2003 wedding at Snellville United Methodist Church. The pair performed a version of the song "Sweet, Sweet Spirit" during the nuptials.
Turner and Jennifer have four boys: Samuel Hawke, Marion Crawford, Colby Lynch and Hampton Otis.
His first book, Man Stuff: Thoughts on Faith, Family and Fatherhood, was published in 2014.